Find Your Happy Place: Choose What You Read!

In a week that saw the celebration of International Day of Happiness, the concept of what it is to be happy is something that needs little introduction.

Pharrell sings about it. Oprah talks about it. And every fairytale we’ve ever read ends with that much-anticipated happy ever after.

It seems that regardless of age, race or gender, we’re all just trying to figure out what the key to happiness really is.

Here’s the thing, though.

Much though we might want it to, happiness doesn’t start with a new relationship, a holiday or a particularly nice handbag out of River Island.

That kind of happiness is fleeting – a quick hit of serotonin that leaves us wanting more. No, authentic happiness starts with our thoughts and what we tell ourselves every day. And according to research, as much as 40 percent of our happiness levels are within our own control.

That’s good news. It means that if we take more control over our thoughts, we can feel happier on a daily basis. And guess what’s one of the biggest influences on our thoughts?

Yes, got it in one – what we read!

So perhaps it’s a good time to pause and take stock of what exactly it is that we’re reading on a daily basis.

In the digital age that we’re in, a lot of what we read is online – through social media, blogs, news sites and web pages.

There are obvious benefits – it’s fun, informative, keeps us up-to- date and in touch with a wide network of people. But to what extent to do we take control of what we’re reading? A study of 7000 young people published last year showed that those who spent the mosttime on social media were twice as likely to be unhappy – with issues including anxiety, self- esteem problems and social isolation.

It seems that we need to learn what a healthy dose of online content is. Of course, spending too much time reading online is easily done – you scroll down Facebook, reading lots of snippets of content and scanning for more until, suddenly, 2 hours have disappeared.

So, with the week that’s in it, why not resolve to take control of what you’re reading – to choose what you read and, in turn, to choose happiness. Here are a few, simple steps to help us all on our merry way:

1. Declutter your news feedChoose who you follow carefully because it’s their words that you end up reading. That acquaintance from your university days whose posts are only ever negative? A simple ‘hide’ and your happiness levels will soar!

2. Put a limit on your social media timeStudies have proven social media engagement to be good for our mental health, but excessive online scrolling can contribute to anxiety and low self-esteem, as well as worsening the symptoms of depression. Set a limit – say 45 minutes a day – and stick to it!

3. Choose a good book to read instead (ahem, most of Cecelia’s collection should do the trick!) Rather than reading fifty random Tweets, committing to a good book is much more satisfying and memorable. Reading for pleasure has also been proven to increaseself-confidence, help us to make better decisions and even help us to sleep better.

After all, is there any greater happiness in life than a cup of tea and a good book?

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