Fri. Jul 1st, 2022


We are in a pandemic, in an unsustainable moment, of uncertainty, tired, and generally if we ask someone how they are, few people will tell us that they are fine, that they are happy. Why do we need so much to be happy?

Silvia Álava, doctor in clinical and health psychology, answers this question in an interview with Infosalus that society has sold us that to show that you have succeeded in life you have to say that you are happy, and that you are well; so that we always aspire to a happiness that is not always feasible, because "you cannot be well 24 hours a day" and that we also base on doing fun things that we feel like doing.

"In the real world there will be things that we don't like and, as of today, we are living through a pandemic that will last two years. The WHO not only talks about the effects of COVID, but also about pandemic fatigue , a name that is has put to the anxiety generated by those fears, and associated unpleasant emotions," he adds.


In his opinion, we must be aware that we do not have to be happy all day, that in life there will be good and bad days. It's also important to have strategies so that when situations don't go well and it's nice for us to know what I can do to regulate them and that they affect me as little as possible", Álava remarks on the occasion of the publication of 'Why am I not happy?' (HarperCollins).

Among other points, he defends as a first piece of advice that we can promote happiness by promoting or favoring pleasant emotions , where calm, serenity, living in peace are found, not only being fun 24 hours a day, even though there are moments of fun and there are that propitiate them, but not that it is our vital objective and to be happy.

"There are many definitions of happiness, such as enjoying the moment of everyday life or Saint Augustine's phrase that happiness consists in continuing to want what you already have," he says. It's about learning to enjoy the day to day , those little moments, to value what we have. "One of the things that has been widely studied as a predictor of happiness is to be grateful, to value what we have ," adds the director of the Álava Reyes Psychology Center (Madrid).

Another aspect that Silvia Álava draws attention to is that we can be happy despite having bad days because "it is impossible not to have them". The problem, yes, is found, as he warns, when we have one bad day after another, and we have been sad or overwhelmed for months, so that we cannot enjoy our life or get to things as before. It will be time to seek help from a specialist, as indicated. "There's nothing wrong with having a bad day and we can't associate a bad day with failure or problems," Álava insists.

With this, this doctor in clinical and health psychology provides a series of tips so that we can be happier:

·Take decisions. There are many people who tell us in consultation 'how did I end up where I am' or 'at what point in my life did this go wrong'. We must be aware of what we want and from then on it will not be something immediate but always make decisions based on what we want.

· Be clear about your values and principles because if we live very far from them, this also generates a lot of discomfort. The idea of happiness that we defend is to be comfortable, to be calm, at peace with ourselves, and accepting life and the situation we have.

·It is true that there are things that will later help us feel better. For example, something fundamental is to have a good social network , encourage friends because this can lead to situations with very contagious joy. Therefore, we must give friends the importance they really have.

· Favor pleasant things and be grateful for what happens to us. Also know how to value what we have.

·It is also important to take care of the family, one of the parts that most enhances emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, so we are going to try to take care of relationships with them and try to make them pleasant. Here it is essential how we communicate and learn to be assertive and say what I think, want and hope, but without harming others, but not remaining silent either.

· Learn to enjoy and not take anything for granted . All the pleasant moments I will record in my memory. Happiness is not going to be associated with very big things, that can be done from time to time. We must enjoy the small moments of everyday life that give us a pleasant feeling and be aware of them. One of the exercises that can help is to write down those good things that happen to you to compensate for something bad that may happen to us.

With the pandemic, what we have to insist on the most is the flexibility part, and we are going to try to leave that feeling that we have to be in control of things. In the end it is tolerating uncertainty.

·Then we must understand that we are tired and fed up. At no time should you give a sweetened image of the situation, it is normal to be like this. But we must also change our way of understanding that these plans are not the time to have them in the medium or long term. Therefore, we must live more in the present, enjoy it more, and be flexible with respect to changes in life, and not get stuck in that rumination phase, that we cannot do what we want.


Among the enemies of happiness , those things that help us feel worse and be unhappy, Álava points first to how we interpret situations, irrational ideas or cognitive biases. "It is not about going on to make a positive, wonderful speech, because the country of the lollipop does not exist, but it is about making that speech the closest thing to the earth. If you are going through a difficult situation, say that it is difficult, that We don't like it, but we don't say that it's terrible and that we won't be able to deal with it; therefore, don't magnify it, and always be glued to the ground," he adds.

Another thing that takes us far away from emotional well-being is rumination , when we get hooked on something, and we go round and round; something that causes us a lot of discomfort.

Likewise, he points to anxiety and stress , enemies of feeling good: "The situation is very 'anxious' now, pandemic fatigue, living with COVID. We must understand that anxiety is what happens to me but it is something we can learn to handle.

"Let us not also forget that without wanting it we are also our main enemy , we create tremendous movies in our minds about what is going to happen, sometimes even series with several seasons, when it comes to living closer to planet earth and stop being our enemies, live more in reality, which is sometimes complicated but not ruminating about how it can be more complicated, for example, "he adds.