The Quick Guide to Being Happy – Just 2 Simple Steps!
How do you define happiness?
What does it look like? What does it feel like? What causes it, and why is it sometimes so far out of reach?
The dictionary defines happiness as a state of joy, contentment or pleasure. That’s a great place to start, though we all know joy, contentment and pleasure are often temporary states.
What does it mean to have lasting happiness?
The philosopher, Aristotle defined happiness as the “Supreme Good.” Each person’s supreme good is subjective, but the one thing that binds all humans is the capacity for rational thought. According to Aristotle, anyone who cultivates behaviors and habits that align with our essential nature as rational human beings will be able to bear misfortune with equanimity, and thus live a truly happy life.
Wow. Wait…what did he say? Does that make sense?
Let’s look at it another way.
If you apply yourself in a thoughtful way toward virtue or excellence in any endeavor, the hard parts of life won’t affect you as much, and you’ll be happy.
Let’s think about this further.
If you’re a parent, your job is to keep your kids safe and raise them to become responsible, useful adults, capable of contributing to society and finding their own happiness. When your kids demonstrate these abilities, you know you’ve done your job well, and that makes you happy.
If you’re an artist, your job is to create expressions of your inner world that provoke thought or feeling in someone else. When people behold your artwork and are clearly affected by it, you’ve done your job, and you’ll feel happy.
If you’re an entrepreneur, your job is to create a product or service that helps people in some way or another, and generate income by doing so. When that product or service is utilized well by your audience, and they pay you for it, your mission is accomplished, and happiness ensues.
So what’s the Problem?
The only problem with this definition is that it hinges your happiness on a fixed outcome, only available in hindsight. If you don’t hit your goal, you’re not really happy.
However, we know that the true goal is to be happy in the pursuit of your passions…and that’s the real secret.
When you’re actively pursuing the activities you love and goals you believe in, the reward is intrinsic. Doing something meaningful will bring out the best in you, and that, alone will make you happy.
As we can see, happiness is not some elusive state of bliss that may or may not hit you. If you want to be happy, it’s not a matter of luck. Happiness isn’t just for those born into ideal situations or “blessed by a higher power.”
Happiness is yours, so long as you’re willing to apply yourself toward a chosen passion with virtue, excellence and determination.
Let’s take a deep breath to let that sink in.
Now let’s look at happiness from another angle.
We’ve all heard the statistics on happiness and wealth that boil down to one simple truth. People in poor countries are often far happier than people in wealthy countries.
So based on that, if you give up all your material possessions, you’ll be happy, right? Well…not really.
What’s left out of that equation is the dependence on community that’s inherent in lower-income areas of the world. When you have plenty of money, you can pay to have EVERYTHING done for you. When you don’t have those options, you have to…
- Do more work yourself, and
- Ask others for help.
We’ve already looked at 1. Doing more work yourself will make you better at doing that work, and being good at something makes you happy. Now let’s look at 2.
Asking others for help, helps you bond. You become friends. You work together. You develop a home-team, and people tend to work harder and play to win when they know their home-team is rooting for them. Then there’s celebration, accolades and all the other stuff that makes the team effort feel worthwhile and fulfilling.
We are, by nature, pack animals. You might be more introverted, but you still thrive in the company of others you trust and love.
So what can we draw from all that?
It seems like when you are around people you love, doing things that you find meaningful, and applying yourself as a functional human being, you’re likely to find happiness.
Pretty simple, yeah?
Now, stop pursuing happiness and start pursuing excellence and connection. Your happiness depends on it!