Cobb Life

JAN-FEB 2019

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36 COBB LIFE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 inside ourselves," he adds. "Only 10 percent of our happiness comes from external forces. e goal should be to practice happiness." Practice happiness? "It's much like practicing piano," he explains. "You're retraining your subconscious. If you practice piano every day, you'll eventually just start playing the music. It's the same thing with happiness." Harmon says the trick to learning happiness is really quite simple. On paper, at least. Just say, "thank you." "at's how you practice. Look for every opportunity you can find to say, 'thank you' in a genuine way. Retrain your mind to look for things to be thankful for. My daughters are probably sick of hearing it, but just this morning, I said, 'Good morning! How are you?' ey said, 'Tired.' I said, 'No, say, "I'm great!" Because eventually, you'll realize you really are. You retrain it by verbalizing it. Verbalize gratitude. Your mind will look for things to say, 'thank you' about, which helps you to be a happier person," he says. According to research done by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, people who kept a daily gratitude journal – that is, those who took time each day to write down at least five things for which they were grateful – were happier than those did not. Harvard professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar teaches an entire course on happiness, one of the most popular on campus, and wrote a book on the topic titled, "Happier." Dr. Ben- Shahar defines happiness as "the overall experience of pleasure and meaning." In his book, he explains that happy people enjoy positive emotions while also perceiving their lives as purposeful. So true happiness isn't something felt in a fleeting moment but rather an overall way of being. Happy people can endure emotional pain and still be happy overall, he writes. Some might argue that an idealistic approach to life is unrealistic, an argument Harmon said he has heard time and again. "ere are always people who will say the glass really is half-empty. And they're right. But it's also half-full. So it's really just your choice. Happiness is a choice. ere are bad things out there, there always are and always will be but, to me, there are many more good things. If you want to focus on the bad, go right ahead. But it won't make you a happier person," he says. Dr. Ben-Shahar also discredits the idealistic versus realistic argument in his book, claiming that to be idealistic is actually to be realistic. Photo by Kelly J. Huff

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