The amount of information available to us online or in the bookstores discussing the topic of happiness and the pursuit thereof is overwhelming. Despite the abundance of content available to us on the subject, our society as a whole continually struggles to discover its “Happiness”. What is happiness? According to Webster’s some apt synonyms are pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, well-being, enjoyment, and many more. Where does happiness come from? It is a state of being. Here is the struggle for most of us – we pursue happiness as though it is an object of our desire to be received upon completion of the next task. When we get this or after we achieve that, then we will be happy. This is what media and marketing desires of us. Never be content or satisfied with what you have but continually stress & strive for what you don’t have because that will make you happy. We are constantly and continually bombarded with everyone else’s agenda and because we haven’t taken the time to define our own, we go along for the ride. We have a “concept” of happiness that is largely driven by what we perceive will bring us personal satisfaction and contentment. Let’s make this “concept” ours and nobody else’s. Here are some ideas on how we can do just that:
Have a Purpose
I cannot stress enough the importance of living a life of purpose. It has been proven time and again that people with a definite purpose live longer and are generally happier. Having and living with purpose will direct our actions and efforts everyday.
When we serve others, our focus shifts from our needs to their needs. This is a simple concept that has an extraordinary impact on our level of happiness. It feels good to serve others and make a difference. We want our lives to matter and when they matter for others, it is powerful medicine for the mind.
Be Open, Be Present, Be Mindful
Always be open to possibilities. Closed systems don’t grow and thrive because they consume themselves. Open systems grow and thrive because of the continuous input of knowledge and experience. Never be closed to the possibilities. Always be present. Always keep this phrase in mind: “Wherever you are, be there”. We are with our kids but staring at our phones or the TV. We are enjoying dinner with our friends but the latest Twitter feed draws us away from the conversation. We live a distracted life and having the courage to put down the phone and be present will be a meaningful lesson to teach our children. Always be mindful. I have explained in previous articles that we possess the ability to control only one thing and that one thing is Our Mind. The only way we can take it back is to observe our thoughts without bias. Be real and stop making mountains out of molehills. Tomorrow the sun will come up as it has for all of human history so our trials today will be trivial tomorrow. Turn off the negative news, turn off the Twitter feed, turn off the Facebook alerts, and turn off the phone. These are distractions that will keep us from attaining sustained happiness.
As I wrap up this writing I want to encourage you to focus on the journey and not the destination (trite I know, but so fundamental). Don’t attach your happiness to any single or upcoming accomplishment or event. Avoid tying your happiness up with another person’s happiness because this is the fastest path to disappointment. Love the process, not the results. Find ways to serve others and take the time to define, then live, your purpose.