We speak to Dr Timothy Sharp, Chief Happiness Officer at Sydney’s The Happiness Institute, to find out more on how to keep a healthy and happy perspective during these trying times.
Q: How would you define happiness, especially in this unusual situation we are all in?
Dr Sharp: There are many definitions of happiness, but in simple terms, it can be thought of in one of two ways. Firstly, happiness is one of many positive emotions; along with joy and satisfaction and contentment and even calm. Important as these are, however, they’re fleeting. So secondly, and what the science of Positive Psychology is really more interested in, is that happiness can be thought of as thriving and flourishing; or living one’s best life. This includes the experience of positive emotions but also includes living a life with meaning and purpose, attending to physical health and well-being, fostering hope and optimism, building and maintaining positive relationships, and practising gratitude.
Q: What are the main aspects of happiness that we should all aspire to?
Dr Sharp: We should aspire to live a life that’s consistent with our values. This should contribute to satisfaction and pride, but we also need to accept that we won’t be 100% happy all the time. Doing good usually leads to feeling good but sometimes, say, when bad things happen, we also need to accept and manage (as best we can) the reality of negative emotions. In summary, then, we should aspire to living a “good life” (which isn’t necessarily the same as being “happy” every minute of every day).