First of all, what really is Happiness: According to Webster, it can mean lots of things: wealth, self-gratification, exhilaration, bliss, etc. For our sake, we will define happiness as contentedness, pleasurable satisfaction, and one which is peaceful and rests without desires. According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.
According to The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, it is not “self-centered” to work at being happy. When we feel happy, we feel more light-hearted and are more able to eliminate the bad feelings or actions we oftentimes get stuck in, such as over-eating, drinking, gossiping, being irritable, being uninterested in others, being selfish and wanting our way, and doubting that happiness is possible.
If we work very hard to be happy, and mind you, it takes very hard work to be happy in this world, we may feel right and good, and more content in the midst of our battles.
So, how do I get there? Here are some ideas:
- Wish to be happy, and challenge those thoughts that guard your efforts; Is the glass full or empty? If I think I’m happier, I am happier
- Fight the tigers of negative thought patterns. Hurdles are easier to swallow than big, monstrous, unpassable mountains
- Focus on what is good and right. Be lighthearted, generous, creative, kind, encouraging and helpful
- Remember in detail the good memories of yesterday
- Meditate on the good characteristics of others. We all have an angel and devil on our shoulders. Seek the angel – in you and in others. The one, who gets the most attention, wins.
- Realize that we all make mistakes, and being fair usually ends with a positive outcome
- Recognize the good experiences you are having right now that you would normally not spot
- Make other people happy
- Practice laughing
- Realize that the years are short
- Put yourself in control of your attitude
- Set your goal on what is meaningful and with purpose
Of course, Happiness does not take the reality out of living. We still go through many hardships; loved one’s passing, family conflicts, mental illness, poverty, cold wars, endless political battles, illness, and so on. Life is not easy. We need to solve our problems and not pretend they don’t exist. We need to have hope that this too shall pass.
Happiness is an attitude. It is a resolution. It is a decision. It is a life-long goal or path we can take so that we are better equipped to deal with the rough spots of the many troubles we face each today.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW