Carl Jung was a renowned psychology expert who founded many theories about personality, identity, and analytical psychology.
His work has been studied the world over, and today, many of his theories and suggestions for improving one’s life still hold.
In our hustle and bustle world, it can be hard to find time to smell the proverbial roses, and it seems that the more access we have to things, the less unsure we are of what can make us happier.
The search for happiness is very real, and many affluent psychologists have been busy trying to find their answers to some of life’s most difficult questions.
What makes us happy is not the same for everyone. Pop culture likes to remind us that money and owning stuff is the quickest way to achieve the happiness we seek, but a growing body of literature is claiming its place amongst the theories to remind us that we need only look inward.
And Jung was one of the first to make this claim.
In 1960, Jung was interviewed by journalist Gordon Young, who asked, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human?
Here is Jung’s answer:
- Good physical and mental health.
- Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
- The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
- Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
- A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.
Below, I’m going to go through each point and explain why I think it’s important for happiness:
1) Take Care Of Your Physical and Mental Health
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that taking care of your body, exercising, eating right, getting the sleep your body needs, and tending to the needs of your mental health can help to make you a happier person overall.
The physical benefits of exercise can make someone happier. According to Web MD, our bodies release endorphins when we exercise, and these endorphins can provide us with the same level of satisfaction that chocolate can.
So rather than fill up on chocolate that could make you feel bloated and full of guilt, spend time outdoors walking. Your body and brain will thank you for you.
2) Working to Improve Your Relationships
Humans crave love and attention, and we can satisfy those cravings with our relationships: friends, family, marriages, coworkers, neighbors.
Of course, we can’t like everyone all the time, and we don’t always get along with everyone all the time, but the consensus is that someone who is loved and who works to put their relationships first, experiences more happiness overall than people who don’t.
Which makes sense if you think about it, people who spend their lives alone don’t tend to be very happy. Sharing your life with people can make you happier.
What’s more, spending your life in the service of others: your wife, children, friends, extended family, can make you feel happier as well. When we remove our needs from the equation and work to make others happy, we experience a great deal of happiness as a byproduct of those actions.
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3) See the Beauty All Around
Yesterday I put a pot of soup on the stove to boil and then hours later remembered that I had put soup on the stove. Thankfully, my housemate saw that I was busy with housework, so he took the soup off the stove before it burned and made a mess.
This is just one example of how busy our lives are: we don’t even remember that we wanted to eat soup for lunch.
If we want to be happier, we need to slow down and take in the scenery around us. Stop and eat lunch, smell those roses, nap on the patio, picnic under a tree, share some change with a man on the street, visit a friend, appreciate the beauty that is everywhere.
We don’t do this enough as humans. There is always money to make and places to go and projects to deliver. Taking the time to soak up the world around us can help improve our happiness and reduce our stress levels as well.
[To dive deep into self-help techniques you can use to improve yourself, check out my no-nonsense guide to using eastern philosophy for a mindful and peaceful life here].
4) Enjoy Your Work and Life
Everyone’s interest in work varies depending on who you are talking to. There is a great divide between people who live to work and those who work to live.
The happiness of employees seems to go up when they enjoy their work and don’t feel like they need to separate their personal from their professional lives.
When we feel needed and productive, our levels of happiness go up. While many people don’t put any stock in their jobs at all, those that do experience more satisfaction and better standards of living overall because they take pride in their work and products.
5) Something to Believe
While formal religion is not necessary to lead a long and happy life, many people, including Jung, believed that having something bigger than yourself to believe in could lead you down a path of happiness.
The idea that life doesn’t end when we leave this world is of great comfort to millions of people and it can bring solace and acceptance during particularly difficult times in our lives.
If you find yourself struggling to grab hold of happiness, try focusing on one aspect of your life that you can improve upon. Sometimes, the simple of act trying to improve one’s self or one’s situation can bring about a great deal of satisfaction and happiness as well.
Another Jung strategy you might be interested in is shadow work. This is about learning to get to know your darker side so you can release it.
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