What makes you Happy? Can you be happier – which could mean anything from satisfied to content to enthused to ecstatic? What are the pathways to happiness that will work for you?
Happiness, in fact, is all the rage. Sociologists, psychologists, scientists and politicians are wondering if we can design our lives – personal and collective – around well-being rather than wealth and things. In Bhutan they call it Gross National Happiness. In Positive Psychology they call it learned optimism. In neurobiology they talk about dopamine and serotonin and opiates. In spirituality they hook monks up to machines to map the joy centers of the brain.
In daily life we look for it in things – money, possessions and status. We look for it in thrills – travel and recreation. We look for it in others – partners and even our pets. But how closely do we look at whether our choices actually make us happy? The road to true happiness is one you design based on your unique life and informed by the best information from science, sociology, psychology and spirituality.
From a Your Money or Your Life perspective, two keys to sustained happiness are:
1.Knowing when you’ve had enough – of anything. Recognizing your “enough point” (when you have everything you want and need and nothing in excess) gives you two powerful gifts. You stop and savor your satisfaction and you go on to meeting other needs.
2. Investing your life energy – your money, time, attention, consumption – in ways that you’ve determined for yourself bring you joy.
“Recognizing Enough” and “Directing Life Energy” are simple to say but harder to implement when your habits and the culture’s messages distract and deceive you. Happiness is a skill you develop over time through
- Paying attention to daily choices
- knowing when to say no
- risking saying yes
- savoring moments
- serving a greater purpose
- telling the truth
So many people are peddling happiness these days – in a pill, a bottle, a new meditation technique or yoga pose or perfume or retreat or outfit or workshop or power drill. Do you accept what is or go for the gold? Do you make a bucket list or bloom where you are planted? Do you get married, divorced or go to Italy then India then Bali.
Our gift is to offer you tools and perspectives so you can see for yourself what actually brings you joy – and do that, no matter what some expert or your mother says.
THE HAPPINESS EQUATION
“I believe that we are all on the hunt for Happiness. And by looking beyond the symbols we are taught about happiness (cars, houses, watches, awards) we can find the real thing.”
My equation for happiness is this:
______ = Sustained Happiness
Purpose + Passion + Pleasure over time, observed with warm awareness leads to sustained happiness
Purpose is how you guide your life energy so that you can achieve your values, goals and dreams. The best purposes are the ones that serve more than ‘me and mine’. Going beyond our own happiness and using your life energy to help the world be a better place creates meaning in life.
How much you enjoy the life energy that flows through your life is how much pleasure you experience. The taste of your food, the feel of what touches your body, the sound of bird’s singing or the smell of fresh air. Real pleasure is to be savored,you can’t rush it.
What do you bring to your life? How much energy do you bring to your everyday to invest in your dream and your relationships are how you unlock your happiness. An afternoon walk to gather your thoughts, a great conversation over a cup of coffee with a friend, or loving the work you do are all moments of opportunity to express your passion. Pouring your passionate energy into what matters most to you creates unending Happiness.
The capacity to observe your self (and others) without judgment is warm awareness. Judgment undermines Happiness and talks you out of any Happiness you want (even a vacation in Bali or a special event).
Observation allows you to see yourself in relationship to your life and to be grateful. To notice when Happiness is present allows you to capture and enjoy more fully that feeling.
Time is the process of change. Our lives are always changing according to what we are experiencing each day. Holding your focus on what matters most in the change of life is daily practice.
The more you open to loving yourself and your life, let go of any judgment, allow the energy of your passion to enter in, and truly direct it into what matters most, sustained over time, the more happy you will become.