Wait, don’t answer that.
Before you answer this question, I want to explore with you what it means to be happy. True happiness lies in first how we define it for ourselves. To be truly happy, we need to first explore what true happiness means to us as an individual. No one can define your happiness except you.
According to Vocabulary.com, Happiness is defined as “…that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. It’s the opposite of sadness. Happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment.” There are days when we feel truly happy. Everything is as it should be and we are living our life on our terms. We feel a sense of satisfaction in what we are doing and who we are. What is the source of your happiness? Is it internal? External? Is your happiness derived from a relationship with another person, your career, and outside activity? Define happiness on your terms not based on what others tell you to do to be happy.
As I said, happiness for me may not be your happy. However, we can discuss the basic characteristics of a “happy” person. A happy person owns their happiness, meaning they alone are responsible for what makes them happy. Deriving happiness from an external source is quite possible and even acceptable, but ultimately, we have to own what makes us happy. You can certainly find happiness from your connection to another person, object, or activity, but true happiness is internal and individual. If we own our happiness, it is ours and we control what makes us happy and do not give this responsibility to someone else.
As I said, happiness for me may not be happiness for another person. However, certain basic characteristics can define a “happy” individual. This individual owns their happiness and knows that they alone are responsible for what brings them joy. Happiness can be found in our connections to another person, object, or activity; however, true happiness emanates from the inside and the source will be unique for everyone. By owning our happiness and not placing the responsibility on someone else, it is ours alone to control and surround ourselves with what makes us happy.
Get in touch.
Until we get to know ourselves and what brings us joy, how can we find happiness? Sometimes in the search for happiness and peace, we cannot get out of our way. Take inventory of the things in your life and eliminate those that do not provide a source for happiness, promote growth, and a sense of accomplishment. That is not to say we need to eliminate all negative aspects. That is not reasonable and we need conflict and negativity to grow and strive to be happy. If we can get in touch with not only who we are but who we want to be, we begin to feel a sense of purpose and value. We all have much to offer but unfortunately, we allow the negative to seep into our reality and create feelings of not being good enough. STOP IT! Be true to yourself and be cool with who you are.
What does your heart tell you? Take time to search within yourself and discover what is in your heart. What makes you happy? At times it is right in front of you but remains invisible. We’ve all heard that “we can’t see the forest for the trees.” See the forest. We live in a world that defaults to cynicism and there are negative forces all around us. We can give in to this or we recognize it for what it is and choose to view our circumstances through a different lens. Being happy is a choice. It’s not easy when we are constantly bombarded with negative noise. This may sound simplistic but in reality, choosing to be happy instead of cynical can be refreshing and change how you view the world around you. We cannot hide from the negativity that pervades our environment, but if we can recognize it for what it is, it becomes easier to react in a way that confuses the cynics. Choose happiness over negativity, jealousy, envy, resentment, and search for the good in every situation and every person. Your heart will tell you where you need to go and what you need to do.
Focus on You.
There are as many ways to achieve happiness as there are stars in the sky. This is where you come in. You decide what makes you happy and what does not. No one can decide this for you. We spend much of our day doing for others, meeting their needs, ensuring our clients, colleagues, family members are satisfied. The list of the people we support is exhaustive. Usually, the person you leave off the list is You. Not advocating selfishness here, but take the time to shift some of the focus and attention you give others back to yourself. Look in the mirror. What do you see? Take care of that person. Your ability to do for others depends on how you take care of yourself. You cannot have one without the other.
Commit to paper what happiness means to you. As stated earlier, happiness is unique to the individual. Define it for yourself. Write it down.
Determine what aspects of your life make you happy. What are some things you can look to that are a source of happiness for you? Focus on these and think about why they serve as a source of your happiness. Create two columns on a piece of paper. Title one column happiness on one column unhappiness. Compare and contrast this list and determine what you would need to do or what aspect of your life you could change to move the items under the unhappy column to the happy column. This may seem simplistic on its face, but it is an exercise worth doing. The happy column becomes your happiness inventory. Very important that you commit these to paper as visualizing will often put things into an easier-to-digest perspective.
Define your priorities. Did you list yourself as one of those priorities? We are constantly taking care of people throughout our day. You cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. Life is about balance. If your own life is out of balance, you cannot adequately serve the people you need to serve at home or work. Check on the physical, spiritual, and intellectual aspects of your life. If these are out of sync, adjust to bring them into a harmonious relationship.
Recognize that at times happiness comes at the expense of some discomfort. While failures can certainly get in the way of our happiness, failure and disappointment can be great teachers. By recognizing failure as a means to improve and learn, we accept it as a necessary part of our individual growth.
Hopefully, you take some of the ideas here and put them into practice. Happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy. You matter and you deserve the happiness that is there for all of us. Here’s to a happy life.