It is no brainer that most of us wish to have a healthy relationship with our partners, friends, children, co-workers, pets, well the list goes on. But does that mean true happiness can only come with the relationships we have with people around us? Can you be happy within yourself when you are in a romantic relationship or do you end up becoming a mirror of your partner’s happiness?
I am not a relationship expert nor am I the happiest person on the planet like Matthieu Ricard, the 66 year old Tibetan monk, but I do know few proven things that will bring happiness to life. And just like the term “like a prayer”, most of these things have to be included in your life on a daily basis.
What is Happiness?
Definition of happiness
According to Britannica, happiness, in psychology, a state of emotional well-being that a person experiences either in a narrow sense, when good things happen in a specific moment, or more broadly, as a positive evaluation of one’s life and accomplishments overall—that is, subjective well-being. If you want to add a bit more science to this explanation, health experts would add some fancy hormones and chemicals to define happiness.
In layman’s terms, Dopamine is considered as the “Reward Chemical”. For example, this is the kind of happiness you get after completing a task, doing self-care activities such as exercise, eating good food, and celebrating little wins. To celebrate little wins you don’t necessarily have to go shopping or binge eat, you can even take a long hot bath!
This chemical is considered as the mood stabiliser. Everyday life how can you get your daily dose of serotonin? Doctors say that by doing meditation, running, a healthy dose of sun exposure, swimming, cycling etc can elevate your Serotonin levels.These things can be incorporated in your daily life isn’t it? To maintain good physical health we already know that one should do some exercises, may be taking your dog for a walk, or doing some yoga or stretching etc.
This is the love chemical! So how can you get a dose of Oxytocin, examples are; playing with our dog, holding hands, hugging someone, giving a compliment etc. Think of the first days when you fell in love with your partner. “The butterflies in your stomach feeling” why do you think that happened? Probably thanks to high doses of Oxytocin levels. May be that phase is over, but you can create it by spending quality time with your partner. Go back to holding hands if that’s going to bring that happiness, hug him/her everyday.
Endorphins are considered as the “pain killer”. Does this help with mental health? Does it help with mental healing process? I would answer both with yes! How can you induce Endorphins at a regular basis? Laughter is the best medicine after all. Have a good sense of humor, watch a comedy, stay in touch with friends, eat some dark chocolates, and also exercise. All these help bring more endorphins to your system.
5 ways to be happy alone – even if you are in a relationship
1. Have your own goals
There are many things you can do together as a couple. But having your own goals doesn’t make you a selfish person. For example you can have your own health goals that you can practise at a regular basis. May be you want to learn something new. Sign up for an online course, or attend a yoga class near your home. Whatever your goals are, try to keep them simple, and achievable. And be kind to yourself if you couldn’t put ticks on your entire to-do list for the day.
2. Maintain happy relationships with others
Call your friends, stay in touch with your family, hang out with your co-workers. Remember that you are not alone and you are not stuck in a marriage or relationship. Maintaining healthy and happy relationships with people around help you be open to new things, new ideas, and openness to life. And guess what? Happy people can make others happy too!
3. Just as you plan on doing things together, do things on your own
Usually we make plans with others. Friday nights with friends, Sundays with family… Just like that, plan to do things you like (which your partner may not necessarily like) to do them alone. It could be something as simple as binge watching a Netflix comedy series on your own, reading a book in a coffee shop or a little more planned like taking a trip alone.
4. Identify negativity and cut them off
One thing is to find happiness, but most of the time we forget to eliminate unhappiness. Whether they are people who eternally gossip, engage in bad habits, blame or criticise you, the effects of such negativity can have a long term impact in your life. You cannot find real happiness when you are stuck with people who bring your energy levels down.
5. Attitude of gratitude
This really is the icing on the cake! If you have read the book The Alchemist, you know what you were looking for was right there all along. If it is hard to practise this, start maintaining a gratitude journal. Daily write things that you are truly happy, and grateful. May be they are small journal entries such as meeting your friends and the affection of friends you enjoyed, or that your dog learnt a new trick. But the key is to maintain it, so the days you feel a little down, you can always refer to your own go-to.
“Happy wife happy life”
Do you have to mirror your partner?
Are you a bad person if you are not mirroring your partner’s emotions? Can you be happy if your partner is going through severe negative emotions? Whilst practicing empathy is a must in life, is it wrong to be the happier person in a relationship? Is it selfish? We say that it is completely ok to be the happier person in a relationship because happiness can have that special contagious effect! Have you noticed that if someone smiles at you, most of the time, you feel like reciprocating?
One thing we must all know is that no matter how close you are to your partner, family or friends, you are an individual person. Just like hunger, pain, and certain other emotions that cannot be shared with others, you are your own person. Therefore happiness in life, just like other emotions, cannot always be shared. And that is ok!
If you are in an unhealthy relationship can you be happy on your own?
If you are having a headache can you enjoy your favorite meal? May be not. Because when part of you are hurting, it is hard to focus on the part that isn’t. Bad times come and go but if they are there for good, you need to take a closer look to bring happiness back to your life.
So if you are in an unhealthy relationship, then the first step is to address the elephant in the room. May be you can try relationship coaching, couples’ therapy or even take a trip together to figure out how you can change things around. But if you are in an abusive relationship, mentally, physically or both, please check the abusive relationship resources we have listed below for help and guidance.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Hotline: 1 (800) 799 – 7233
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone and online chat.The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) is available for anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
Love is Respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
Hotline: 1 (866) 331 – 9474
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone, text, and online chat.
Love is Respect offers information, support, and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships.