Just noticing that you are happy can amplify the happiness you feel. Once you notice that something is pleasurable, you can increase your happiness by savoring the experience.
Whether you are appreciating the pleasure you feel at this moment, or the beauty of a rose, a job well done, or a trait you love in someone else, appreciation makes us happy. In fact one of the ways that we show love is through appreciation, or acknowledging what is good about someone or something.
Compassion moves us to alleviate the suffering of others. It is the ability to understand the pain and suffering of others and feel mercy. Compassion is the basis for the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.Every major religious tradition considers compassion to be a great virtue.
When someone hurts us, or trespasses against us, our natural reaction is anger.Anger is a fine alerting mechanism, but it is not always a good coping mechanism.Forgiveness does not mean condoning the hurtful behavior, but letting go of the anger. Often forgiveness and compassion go together.
Giving makes us feel good. Whether it is something as simple as a smile or a kind word, or a grand and noble gesture, we feel good when we give and even when we watch someone or hear about someone giving.
As forgiveness is the antidote to anger, trust is the antidote to fear. Marci Shimoff, in her book, Happy for No Reason, lists three principals for a happy life and trust that the universe supports you is one. Trust is the basis of faith and of optimism.
Enthusiasm means infused by God. It is excitement, energy, and passion for something. Dale Carnegie calls it the little known secret of success and I have certainly found in my own life that revving up my enthusiasm for something has often turned a drudge into a pleasure.
Optimism is the ability to look on the bright side and find positives in every situation. Dr. Martin Seligman, the author of Learned Optimism, defines it as consistently finding permanent reasons for success and temporary reasons for failure.
In his book called Finding Flow, Mihaly Csikkszentmihalyi found that people are happiest when the amount of challenge closely matches the amount of skill. This is the basis of many games and what many of us think of as fun. Often fun involves an element of risk or uncertainty. Many jokes are based on seeing things in unexpected ways. Finding ways to put these elements into anything will make them more fun and you more happy.
When I think of contentment I think of liking what I have. In this day of more is better, contentment is often about having enough, about satisfaction.