Many of us are so busy on this pursuit of happiness that we haven’t stopped to really think about what our definition of happiness really is.
Happiness is defined on Wikipedia as: “A state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction and pleasure or joy.” Dictionary.com says that, “Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good.”
This got me thinkin’…what really makes me happy? Not just momentarily happy like a double scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Ice Cream or even an earth shattering orgasm. What do I have to do to create real happiness, the kind that’s sustainable?
Many think that money is the key to happiness, and that by having money we will be happy. While in the short-term, yes, money may bring happiness, but what about the long-term? Studies have proven that lottery winners were no happier after the novelty wore off than non lottery winners. Actually, I think that money is a by-product of happiness. That’s why so many people that love what they do are wealthy. Now there is a mantra for you. Get happy-get rich.
That being said, I think that the main source to being unhappy is expectations. When we expect things to turn out a certain way or have expectations that are not being met we become unhappy sometimes even miserable and depressed.
Understanding some of the keys to happiness can help.
GRATITUDE – If you want to be instantly happy, make a list of what you have to be grateful for right now, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. This doesn’t mean that you don’t aspire for more; it just means you are appreciative of all that you do have today.
SPRINKLE IN SOME SPICE – One of our human needs is for certainty. This translates into predictability, which can turn into boredom. To be happy we need to spice things up a bit. Create variety in your daily routine by making a commitment to trying something different. Keep it simple, just ask yourself, what could I do different today?
CREATE COMMUNITY – We all need quality people in our lives. I recently read that to be happy you need 2 out of the following 3 things in your life: good friends, good family, and a good spouse. While I’m not sure that I agree with the good spouse comment, I do understand the point that is trying to be conveyed.
Focus on the social support that you do have. Don’t fret if you don’t have a perfect relationship with your family or significant other. Identify what you’re missing then work to create your community by joining a church, a yoga studio, or even a 12 step group. I belong to an online resource called Meetup.com. There, I get to search for and join the types of groups that I have an interest in. I can even start my own group and invite people in.
LIVE HEALTHY – Break out the jogging shoes. Incorporate healthy food choices into your meal plans. Manage your stress levels with a meditation practice and at least 7-8 hours sleep. Watch funny movies or comedy shows. This sounds elementary but it works!
There is so much more I can say on the topic of happiness. If you’re interested in exploring the topic further there is a great website called Happier.com that features online assessments, stories, customized happiness plans and instructional videos. Check it out, they guarantee you’ll get happier.