Do you know the path of happiness? It is human nature to seek happiness. We all experience that productivity increases when we are happy.
Yet, many are unsuccessful in finding happiness. To complicate matters further, different people defines happiness in various ways.
Some psychologists even claim that happiness is a genetic trait, either you are predisposed to be happy or not. Does this mean that we are predestined to be miserable and unhappy if we were not born with such genes? No, it doesn’t.
Obesity is a genetic trait, but there are people born with this gene who are slim and trim. The difference is the slim and trim individuals did not make the excuse that they have “fat genes”. They made a choice to stay on the healthy side.
Thus is happiness. Happiness is a choice. However, we should know which is the right choice to take. The choice or path, if you will, that will lead us to happiness.
Do you remember Bobby McFerrin’s hit song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. The song goes, “In every life, we have trouble when you worry you make double. Don’t worry, Be happy.” He sang about a choice. – “don’t worry, be happy”. Is it that the right choice?
Happiness Road 1 – Permit Ourselves and Others to be Human
Should we escape from worrying when we are experiencing trouble? Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a known positive psychology Harvard professor and serial entrepreneur, said that one of the things that can help ourselves and others – individuals and society – become happier is to “permit ourselves and others to be human”. We should allow ourselves to experience a myriad of emotions.
The more we suppress a negative emotion, the more it intensifies. On the flip side, when we meet those negative emotions head on, the weaker they become. He calls this “active acceptance”. If the problem or trouble is important, we deal with them by charting a course of courageous action. Sure the fear is still there. Courage is moving on in spite of fear.
Happiness Road 2 – Simplifying Our Life
Another path to happiness is simplifying our life. Doing less rather than doing more. We are so used to multi-tasking, instead of focusing on what is important to us and purging the unnecessary. Doing too much can overwhelm us, which leads to stress. Too much stress is the precursor of depression. Depression is not good for us, our family, or our business.
Yes, stress is part of life. We cannot eliminate it, but we can manage it or reduce it by consciously doing multi-level recovery such as meditation, good night’s sleep, going on vacation or taking a day off. Dr. Ben Shahar even suggests 15 minutes break for each hour or 2 of work to give our mind and body a chance to recuperate.
Happiness Road 3 – Focusing on the Positive
Focusing on the positive is another path to happiness. If we constantly think of things that we are grateful for, it enhances our well-being, our happiness.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Journalizing 5 things that we feel grateful for every day before we go to bed will help us focus on the positive. Writing, even reading, them when we are feeling low brings happiness. Be mindful of what we write about not just a rote exercise. Samples of gratitudes:
- being thankful of one particular individual in your life, your spouse, your partner, your child, and so on
- counting your blessings (enumerate them)
- savouring the experience that you had that day (did you have a great lunch? did you enjoy your son’s junior baseball game?)
Happiness Road 4 – Awareness of our Mind – Body Connection
This implies taking care of our body and mind. How do we do that?
- exercise (we are not made to be sedentary. Exercising for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week will energise both our body and mind.)
- mindful meditation (this does not have to be complicated. It can simply be deep breathing, praying with focus, tai chi, mantra, sitting meditation, and so on
Happiness Road 5 – Culminating Healthy Relationships
The last path of happiness we will look at is culminating healthy relationships. Dr. Ed Diener, a distinguished psychology professor at the University of Illinois, stated that one of the elements of happines is social relationship. Doing the work that we love creates happiness. Spending time with people we care about, going out with other people, exercising in a group or any active group leisure cultivates healthy relationships.
Religion is seen in happier people. The correlation could be happiness is the result of community membership and not necessarily belief in religion itself.
There are a myriad more paths to happiness. Most, including those above, could be considered common sensical. However, sometimes we need someone else’s voice to speak to us, to remind us. Also, as Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management Study, said
“Common sense is not that common, especially when it comes to application.”
Happiness is an ongoing state of mind; it is not a life without problems. Everybody has them. But, problems don’t define you.You move forward and still have a positive attitude that life can still be full of joy and fun things despite the problems. Our focus is what is important to us. Our value system plays an important role in assessing what is important to us. Our inspired passion moves us along the way to fulfilling what we value.
Our focus on what is important to us. Our value system plays an important role in assessing what is important to us. Our inspired passion moves us along the way to fulfilling what we value.
How do you define happiness? Is there anything that is keeping you from your happiness?