Happiness may seem a luxury at a time of real worries about our physical safety and our job security. But it’s important to our health in both the short and long term and affects our productivity. According to the GREAT DREAM model, happiness is really quite simple. It suggests that we can focus on a few key areas to enrich our lives and make them more rewarding. Below we explore the 10 elements that make up the model and explain how you can use it to bring more happiness to your own life.
GREAT DREAM is an acronym for 10 key areas:
- Giving: doing things for other people.
- Relating: connecting with the people around you.
- Exercising: looking after your body.
- Awareness: being mindful of the world around you.
- Trying Out: being curious, and open to new experiences.
- Direction: setting goals.
- Resilience: “bouncing back.”
- Emotions: being positive and emotionally intelligent.
- Acceptance: being comfortable with who you are.
- Meaning: connecting your work with a higher purpose.
Whether you’re donating money to good causes, sharing your expertise with a struggling colleague, or giving up your personal time for a volunteering initiative, giving to others is important. Even small gestures like sending a message of appreciation to a co-worker can lift team and individual morale. But giving doesn’t just make others happy. It can make you happier, too. Research shows that doing things for others improves your own sense of well-being and has positive effects on your health. It can even make you live longer. But it doesn’t stop there. Generosity fosters trust, and it can build stronger and more collaborative working relationships.
Good relationships are fundamental to our happiness and well-being. Both the quantity and the quality of our relationships matter but, of the two, quality is the more important. Developing your ability to listen will help you to improve your connections with others, and to understand and respect what they say and how they feel. Sharing positive experiences at work is another important part of relationship-building.
Staying physically active is good for you, period. Exercise reduces stress, helps you to think more clearly, and raises your energy levels. Even just standing up and moving around more, and going outside for a lunchtime walk, can clear your mind and boost your physical fitness. Look after your diet, too. Be sure to maintain a healthy balance of the main food groups, and to limit your sugar intake. It’s also essential to get enough sleep.
Being mindfully aware of the “here and now” can help you to deal with problems caused by stress. It enables you to be more creative, and more sensitive to your own feelings, as well as other people’s. It can also foster a nonjudgmental frame of mind, which will help you to keep your relationships on a sound footing. The key to mindful awareness is to focus on the present, and to notice the details of the world around you in an objective way.
T: Trying Out
Having the courage and the curiosity to seek new experiences and develop new skills, and to grasp the opportunities to do so, can be truly rewarding. It may help you to feel more in control of your life and work, which can raise your self-esteem. Offering to work on unfamiliar or innovative projects at work, for example, can broaden your experience, build your expertise, and enhance your sense of mastery.
Happiness comes, in part, from finding the things that are important to you. So, setting personal goals that are based on your core values will help you to replace drift with direction. Working to achieve those goals can be enjoyable, engaging and rewarding. Equally, workplace goals that motivate and challenge you – but which remain achievable – can provide a roadmap for a fulfilling career. If you can, get involved with deciding your own goals, and set targets that really matter to you.
You can’t always dictate what happens to you in life, but you can choose how you respond. The way that you react to setbacks, such as failure, loss and illness, can greatly impact your happiness. The good news is that resilience is not just about how tough you are: it’s a skill that you can learn. Key to this is to change your mindset to regard setbacks as temporary challenges, rather than as permanent disasters, and to not be afraid to ask for help.
Few of us get through life without “ups and downs,” but focusing on the times when you feel emotions such as joy and inspiration can help you to build a positive outlook. Consider keeping a journal to record the times when you experience strong positive emotions – when a presentation goes really well, for example, or when your boss congratulates you on a job well done. Reflecting on the pride, or even the elation, that you feel will help you to keep negative emotions in check through the tough times.
Being compassionate with yourself, and accepting your strengths as well as your weaknesses, promotes happiness and a sense of peace. No-one is perfect, and challenging negative self-talk can prevent you from dwelling on your flaws.
Research shows that people feel happier when they feel that their lives have meaning. “Meaning” can cover a huge range of life experiences, from religious faith to a belief that the organization you work for fulfills a noble purpose.
“Meaning” usually has three main components:
- Feeling that what you do makes a difference.
- Understanding how the various facets of your life connect.
- Having a purpose from which you can develop goals.
So, try to foster a stronger sense of purpose by searching for connections between what you do and the “bigger picture” – your community or the wider world, for example. Find out about your organization’s mission beyond the bottom line, and its approach to corporate citizenship. Look, too, for opportunities to participate in charitable or educational projects, to find a higher purpose in what you do.