The Essential Nature of Happiness
With the approaching Christmas holiday and the inherent stress of gift giving, I thought it timely to reflect upon and write about the essential nature of happiness.
It is my belief that happiness is the best gift we could possibly give to ourselves, to others and to the world at large. It is my belief also that we are the only ones who can create deep and lasting happiness within ourselves.
First, let me define happiness as I view it and as I relate to it in this column:
Happiness is – the deep fulfillment and satisfaction of life and the joy of actually being alive. It is living with purpose and direction. It is having meaning in your actions while finding joy in everyday simplicity. Happiness is understanding your inherent value as a person, knowing your core values with which you operate, and living in alignment with both.
Happiness is – knowing what is important to us and what is not. It’s knowing how we wish to spend our time and how we do not. It’s knowing who we wish to spend our precious time with and who we do not.
Happiness is – waking up in the morning knowing we are on the road to becoming the best person we can imagine ourselves to be, even though, we might not be there just yet.
Happiness is – finding yourself deeply immersed in creativity, something that takes you outside of yourself and beyond yourself into a world where space and time doesn’t exist. Creative outlets include the obvious ones: art, writing, dance, music and design. And some not so obvious ones like gardening, business, cooking and almost any endeavor where your imagination takes precedence over your critical mind.
Happiness is – overcoming difficult situations and people and watching ourselves’ grow and evolve as conscious beings.
Happiness is – learning forgiveness, acceptance and sometimes (hopefully more often then not) putting other peoples’ needs before our own.
Happiness is – a practice and something we work to attain yet, it is contained in our true nature. The duality of our natural happiness and the unhappiness created by our complex society is what we have to make peace with.
It is also important to look at the causes of happiness. They are unique and individual to each of us and yet, in many ways they are universal:
Most of us feel happy and deeply satisfied when we have purpose and feel valued for what we bring to any given situation. Most of us also feel happy when we are loved, valued by others, well nourished, safe, and in good health. Usually, deep happiness comes in relationship to others. We need each other to offer balance and perspective to our otherwise egocentric existence. We need each other to help us laugh, create, learn and grow and to help deepen our understanding of compassion, acceptance and forgiveness.
Most of us find our greatest happiness in the giving of ourselves. The people I know who are the most content with their lives (whether or not they have wealth or material goods) are those who have made it a priority to better the lives of others. Those who volunteer, mentor, educate and promote the health and well being of others, in a genuine and often self-sacrificing way, tend to have many more moments of joy then those who don’t.
It’s interesting isn’t it, that we gain the most from something we must give away? This “noble truth” has been circulating the planet for eons.
This Christmas give everyone the greatest gift of all. Take time to reflect on your own personal happiness, what that means to you, and share your happiness with others!
Some questions to get you started are below:
- What do you feel is your greatest purpose?
- When do you feel your best?
- When do you feel most connected and to what?
- When do you lose yourself in creativity and in what form is that expressed?
- What quality or skill of yours do you most enjoy sharing with others?
- What opportunities do you take to give of yourself and how do you feel when you do?
- When did you last feel that you were on the road to becoming the best person you could imagine yourself to be?
- When did you lose this feeling and why?
- How do you spread your happiness?
Of course instead, you could just buy yourself a new pair of Pradas. It certainly would be easier but in the long run, would it be more fulfilling?
Spread Happiness and Good Cheer!
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” — Albert Schweitzer, Missionary, Theologian, Philosopher, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace