Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy from Portarlington shares tips on happiness

Dr Eddie Murphy with his parents at the launch of his new book.
Many people spend their lives searching or waiting for happiness. Many think “If I had a better job” or ‘If I had that boyfriend’ or “If only I could lose weight, I would be happy”.

Many people spend their lives searching or waiting for happiness. Many think “If I had a better job” or ‘If I had that boyfriend’ or “If only I could lose weight, I would be happy”.

The reality is that we can be happy right now. The key to happiness lies within ourselves. Its not external to you with crass things such as cars, holidays or stuff. Being happy is a skill that can be learned and cultivated. It requires making changes in your life; changes to your way of thinking and acting.

Here are six habits which you can try to build into your life that will help you towards happiness.

1. Relationships

Having strong, warm, secure and close relationships is one key to having a joyful life. People with one or more close friendships appear to be happier. Connection with others is vital to feeling loved and needed. Sharing our problems and feelings regularly, increases well-being. I love the African phrase it takes a village to raise a child’. It shows that we are all interconnected. In Ireland too often we can resort to begrudgery. Let’s celebrate people’s successes. It creates more positivity.

2. Volunteering

Reaching out and caring for others less fortunate increases our mental well being. People who volunteer have fewer depressive symptoms and higher life satisfaction. If you have an hour or two a week, consider doing something that interests you and is good for others, it can be tidy towns, supporting somebody with disabilities through ‘Share a Break Schemes’, something sporting or being involved in animal issues.In Portarlington I see and applaud those coaches in sporting groups, scout leaders, meals on wheels volunteers, tidy towns, so no matter what county you are in take a bow. Thank you. You enhance peoples lives. The first step is the hardest, once taken there is a lifetime of opportunity and satisfaction.

3. Exercising

Being active and doing regular exercise has both physical and mental well being benefits. Exercise improves mood straight away by the release of feel good chemicals. Not only that, but it helps with freeing oneself from negative thoughts and builds friendships and improves life satisfaction.

4. Find your purpose.

Even if your full time job isn’t your dream work, make sure to make time for doing what it is you love. What is the one activity that makes you feel exhilarated? That you lose yourself in and experience complete joy and satisfaction. Plan this into your life. Is it gardening, dancing, singing, swimming, talking over tea?

5. Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful and beautiful attitude to cultivate. It is a personality strength where you are aware of the good things you have in life and not take them for granted. People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. Make a list of five things you are grateful for.

6. Acceptance

Accept what cannot be changed and let go of the need to control things outside of your control. Put your focus and energy on the things that you can change and applying the principles here is a great place to start.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your joy. Work on developing these principles in your life. Happiness is a habit, help it grow!

‘Becoming Your Real Self ’ by Dr Eddie Murphy is now available in bookshops.