Be happy: Tips from happiness researchers, philosophers and co.

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Can we learn to be happier – or even plan happiness? We asked a happiness researcher, a philosopher, a Buddhism expert and a career advisor for their opinion – and for tips for a contented life.

Compared to other nations, we Germans are quite happy. At least one can do that Uquestion of the polling institute Ipsos. In 2020, 73 percent of the German citizens surveyed stated that they were very or at least fairly “happy”. The Ipsos Institute also surveyed people in 26 other countries. Germany landed in ninth place, behind China and Sweden, but ahead of the USA.

But if you look at the study from a different angle, the picture is sad: 27 percent, i.e. more than one in four Germans, would not feel particularly happy at the moment. With almost 83 million citizens that would be around 22 million unhappy people.

How can these people change something about their situation? Can you even influence how happy you feel – and if so, what do you have to change to become happier? We asked experts in happiness research, philosophy, Buddhism and career counseling.

Not all happiness is equal

Do we have an impact on how happy we are? That depends on how you define “happiness”. The religious scholar and Buddhism expert Prof. Dr. Michael von Brück explains: “If you are lucky, you differentiate between what comes your way and what you can bring about yourself.” So you have no influence on the first, but you can influence the second.

How happy we feel, however, does not depend on chance. According to von Brück, we decide for ourselves how we react to external influences. For example, we can be happier when we are aware of different aspects of our life gratitude feel. These can also be very small things, for example the breath that flows through our body.

But even if things don’t go well, we can still draw something good from it. “For example, frustration can strengthen the will,” explains von Brück. He quotes the Dalai Lama: “The enemy also makes me stronger.”

Be happy: that’s what Aristotle says about it

Can we control how happy we are? Many philosophers have dealt with this question. “According to Aristotle, happiness has to be learned,” explains Dr. Rebecca Gutwald from the Munich School of Philosophy in conversation with Utopia. “For him, happiness means living a morally good life. How to do this has to be learned from other people and practiced from childhood. “

For Aristotle, for example, “moral” means that one lives moderately. “You don’t have to give up completely,” explains Dr. Gutwald. Instead, you should think about what you really need for life.

Also read: How many underpants can I have? A philosophical look at minimalism

Happiness Researcher: We have to set meaningful and realistic goals

Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Ruckriegel is a happiness researcher. For fifteen years he has been researching the conditions under which people feel happy. “On the one hand, the Emotional balance right, ”he explains. Throughout the day we should have significantly more positive feelings than negative ones. “On the other hand, cognitive well-being is important. It’s about how satisfied you are with your own life. “

How satisfied you feel depends on whether you set meaningful and realistic goals. “For us humans, meaningful goals are personal growth, the success of interpersonal relationships and commitment to society. These three aspects best satisfy our basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and belonging – not money, beauty or popularity. “

Also read: Doing good: 9 non-profit ideas

To be happy, you have to set meaningful goals. (Photo: CC0 /

Happy at work: A positive attitude is important

And in the job? You often have to dance to the boss’s whistle – that frustrates many. Even so, we can at least partially influence how happy we feel at work. Career coach Elke Wagenpfeil explains: “The inner attitude can affect how happy we are in our current job. We often focus more energy on the negative, for example on the one difficult colleague. We forget how nice the rest of the team is. ”She also advises to always be attentive and open. This way we can better recognize (professional) opportunities and influence our happiness.

Be happy: 4 tips for a happy life

Happiness researcher, philosopher, religious expert and career counselor seem to agree: Yes, we can at least partially control how happy we are. Anyone who feels dissatisfied or unhappy has the opportunity to change something. The experts have the following tips:

  1. Focus on the good. The news in the media can be quite depressing at times: it is always about violence, suffering and conflict. Buddhism expert von Brück advises: “Make it clear to yourself that such reports only represent part of reality.” There are just as many good sites – NGOs and educational initiatives, for example. Von Brück advises: “Also think about how you can get involved. Getting active yourself enables lasting happiness. “
  2. Strengthen positive feelings. For example, happiness researcher Ruckriegel recommends keeping a gratitude diary. “Two or three times a week in the evening, think about three things that have happened during the day and for which you are grateful. Then after a few months you will notice that you perceive the positive much more strongly and thus have a more realistic view of life. ”In addition, the happiness researcher advises carefully metering negative feelings:“ Exciting in a traffic jam simply makes no sense. ”
  3. Deal with the topic. Lasting happiness is an important topic in philosophy. Philosophy lecturer Gutwald advises: Be brave and look for meaning. Take your time, do some research and think for yourself. For example, you can discuss with others in a philosophy café (or online) and find answers.
  4. Find a job that makes you happy. According to the career coach Wagenpfeil, this should ideally meet the following conditions: “Firstly, what you do yourself and that of the company should make sense to you. Second, live what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. Third, work in a positive work atmosphere where you are valued. And fourth, you should be able to develop yourself further on the job. ”In order to find a new job like this, it is important that you become clear about your own talents, values ​​and motives and that you look for the right environment for them.
Can you plan happiness?  That's what experts say about it
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