If you go deep enough, just about everything we do is in an effort to be happy. Think about it for a second. Why do you want more money? So you can buy things, take care of your family, donate to charities, help people, take trips, go to concerts, and more, right?
And, why do you want the ability to buy things and do stuff? Because, in one form of another, that makes you happy.
It’s the same with your desire for success, loving relationships, better health, deeper faith, or whatever else you want. When you keep asking why do you want it, it’s about being happy.
Even the voluntary sacrifices you make for others help make you happy. That is the outcome you’re looking for – and that doesn’t take away from the good you’re doing.
So, how do you be happy?
I think it depends on your definition of happiness. Are you talking about momentary happiness? Daily happiness? Overall happiness? A life of purpose, significance, and meaning? Are you talking about a combination of all those things?
That’s what I want. But for today, the question is how to be happy…generally.
According to who you talk to, that comes down to one, two, or four things.
Curly, in the movie, City Slickers, said it’s all about one thing. What is the one thing? Well, that’s for you to figure out.
Gee, thanks, Curly, I was hoping for a little more there (but I think we all know what he means).
The latest results from a Harvard study that’s been running since 1938 just came out. Every two years they ask the subjects questions about their happiness and well-being.
The study found two things that correlate the most to happiness.
1) Let go of the junk in your life.
People who are able to determine what’s important and what isn’t are happier. If you can ignore the small stuff, let go of past failures, and focus on what makes you happy and what counts the most to you, you will radically increase your happiness.
2) Good, social relationships.
We were created to be in relationships. Isolation hurts us. Close, loving relationships with spouses, friends, and extended family boost our overall happiness and help us through tough times. It also helps if you are able to avoid the toxic people in your life.
Ok, that makes sense to me. But what I’ve found is that happiness comes down to…
1) A purpose.
If you read my blog and book, this should not surprise you. I think it’s impossible to have a truly happy life if you think your life is pointless. A purpose changes everything. I have multiple purposes in my life – from meaningful work, to raising my children, to helping people and more. Purpose is linked to all kinds of physical, mental and emotional changes that lead to more happiness.
2) Loving Relationships.
I agree big time with the Harvard study on this one. Some alone time in your life is a good thing, but being isolated and lonely is not. A good marriage, good family, and good friends will take you a long way to the happy place. For me, a loving relationship that is essential is the one I’m always working on with Jesus.
3) Good health.
I used to think it was silly when people said, well, at least I still have my health. Then, I tweaked my back. I could barely walk. Every time I moved it hurt. I couldn’t do anything. I was miserable. It’s hard to be happy when you feel like that. Feeling healthy and well rested really helps pump up the happy.
4) Happy moments.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the big, purposeful, meaningful stuff, we forget the small stuff. Yes, this type of small stuff matters! I’m happy when I go to the beach, or eat an ice cream cone with my daughter, or go out to dinner with my wife, or watch my Gators win a football game in the final second, or fall asleep reading a good book. Those moments count.
We need to balance those with the harder, purposeful work we do to build our happiness.
Questions for comments: What do you do to increase your happiness? What do you think is necessary to lead the happiest life you can?
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