Aristotle said it was the meaning and purpose of life, Kalil Gibran said that happiness was a myth we seek. Whatever it is, its lure has attracted philosophers, scientists and writers through the ages, but have the scholars and philosophers been able to answer the questions that we all have?
Should we pursue happiness?
There are many answers and many opinions but there appears to be consensus among all camps that happiness isn’t something that can be pursued and attained. It does not come from more health, wealth or holidays. All of these things add to a feeling of contentment or well-being or may increase the scale of happiness to elation from time to time but they are all transient, temporary feelings.
What is happiness?
Taoist Chuang Tzu describes happiness as “Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness” Wayne Dyer describes it in a similar way when he says “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”
But what does this mean to you and me? How can we make our everyday lives better?
According to Martin Seligman the father of positive psychology a person will flourish when they have the following attributes in their lives;
1. Positive emotions
2. Good personal relationships
3. Meaning or engagement
He believes that these are the four factors for happiness. He says that we can achieve these by trying to focus on our signature strengths. He says if we use our strengths for the good of all, if we can make a difference to others while doing what we are really good at it will increase our likelihood of have a meaningful and happy life.
Here are 5 things that you can do right now to bring more Happiness into your life
In my workshops on Positivity & Goals setting I always start with a gratitude list, a gratitude list consists of writing down all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Your health, sight, family, freedom etc. I have recently changed the name of my gratitude list to a Mahalo List (sounds a bit sexier!) I did this after reading a blog post by Jt Clough of bigislanddog where she described the meaning of the Hawaiian greetings Aloha and Mahalo. “Mahalo is a Divine breath of gratitude and thanks giving for all that is.” So if we stop to breathe deeply and be thankful for all that we have it is difficult to feel sorry for ourselves. There is no space for saddness when we appreciate all that is and all that we have.
2. Focus on your strengths
Figure out what your signature strengths are, what are you really good at? By using your personal strengths, it will increase your sense of purpose and belonging in life.
3. Practice Acts of Kindness
Doing good deeds brings about a sense of well-being and satisfaction that can help to feel happy about oneself. It works on using your strengths to make people happier or situations better. It contributes to having a meaningful and purposeful life, the main ingredient of being happy. And remember what you do comes back to you, the Law of Karma will work its way back and as you sow your shall reap!
4. Focus on the present
One of the reasons we suffer from stress is that we project ourselves into the future and imagine negative outcomes from events that haven’t yet happened. Sounds ridiculous when you say it like that, but unfortunately most of us still do it. How to avoid doing this is to focus on the present moment. Practice the art of mindfulness to avoid allowing your thoughts to wander and ponder possible outcomes. Being present combats stress, and allows you to appreciate life as it is.
5. Hang out with Happy People
Spend more time with your happy friends the ones that inspire and motivate or the ones that just make you laugh.
Let me know what happiness means to you and if you have any other ideas for increasing happiness, I’d love to hear your ideas.