Happiness is . . .
One of the most asked for, longed for and sought after feeling is: happiness.
I have sat with countless people that just wanted to be happy. Many had a very tragic journey to get to adulthood only to find that the pain didn’t stop and happiness was very short lived. I know that many turn in a plethora of directions to find this most sought after state of being.
I have, myself, wondered how to teach, preach, draw and/or lead others to find happiness. After much thought and MANY experiences my conclusion is that happiness is found when we find contentment in whatever situation we are in. Another way to say this is that happiness is a fleeting state because we live in a world that will most certainly cause pain, betrayal, abuse, loneliness and many other negative feeling, BUT it also is full of beauty, light, love and fulfilling relationships.
When living in a state of constant conflict because we don’t want to feel the negative we are in a fog that keeps us from seeing clearly. Clear sight is found only after we can embrace all of who we are….including all the parts we don’t like.
So many of us feel like we are broken, not lovable and weak. This causes us to never be satisfied with who we uniquely are because we need to be like someone else that seems happy. A constant striving causes us to be tired and weary.
The most peculiar part is that we don’t notice how striving our hearts and heads are because we are like the frog in cold water. If the temperature is slowly raised the frog doesn’t jump out, it adapts. It becomes the norm when the false self is always the image we manifest to others. Someone described their false self and fears like a half dozen ping pong balls in water and they are using all their effort to keep all of them under the water to not be seen.
That would totally be exhausting and quite futile. How is it at all possible to find, or for matter, to see happiness with all this is going on? I don’t have the answer to finding happiness or I’d be wealthy. There are a few things that I have found that happy people display in their lives. I will preface my answer with there are NO formulas….wish there were!!
1. Know who you are.
This is the hardest one to do. What are some of your core beliefs? One of mine used to be if I could just be a better Christian (keep the commandments, pray, go to church, serve, etc) my life would be happy. What I know now is that my heart is the key. I want to love others better, know God better and use my experiences to understand God, myself, and others better. Knowing your triggers, passions, beliefs and embracing that, is a life long process. I need to give myself permission to experience those feelings and be content with the process. Why do you react stronger about some things than others? Why do some people bug you more than others? Learning all this about ME is important, but accepting is also very important.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
This is another reason that you need to accept who you are. Liking who we are keeps us from wanting to have or be like others.
The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring. – Carl Sandburg
3. Be more interested in getting to know the other person.
…rather then you talking about yourself. When you meet someone, ask questions about what they do, about their family, etc. You will end up getting to talk about yourself, but don’t make that your goal. Giving to others is part of being content and happy.
4. Accept that you are NOT perfect.
….you are perfectly imperfect. I was raised in a home where my dad was a pastor. The message (overt and covert) was that I needed to be perfect although: God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but really he does. (I know this is not truth, but a very confusing message) I hate making mistakes, but I also can now talk about them and laugh about some of them, and other blunders, learn from.
5. Have a good sense of humor.
Laughing at ourselves is so important to not have to keep up with others to ‘fit’ in!! Having humor about “life” lightens up the mood and makes us more content with where we are in our journey.
6. Notice beauty.
All of us can appreciate beauty in nature, (although we seem too busy today to stop and ponder) but what about a beautiful thing that happens in relationship. One of the most beautiful moments that I remember is when a little 3-year-old boy asked a friend of mine (who was dating his mother) if he would be his dad. Don’t miss those moments, they are chucked full of feelings and happiness. Keep a list of things that are beautiful (My grandkids’ laughter, My husband’s smile, my kid’s texting me for no reason, Independence Pass, a dragon fly, etc).
7. Be grateful.
This is one we hear all of the time. I am (now…it took a while) grateful that my marriage was not a good one and didn’t work out. It has put me in the career that I am presently in. It taught me tons about myself. It taught me to live in the storm and still find some contentment. My love, patience, empathy, and knowledge about relationship all came with the on-the-job-training of a 25-year relationship (along with the 3 greatest blessings, my children).
8. Do random acts of kindness.
Leave a generous tip, put money in an expired parking meter, smile at others, compliment (not cheesy) others, buy for the person behind you and so on. After you do an act, notice how you feel. Happy? Satisfied? Good about yourself?
Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul. – Alice Walker
9. Spend time alone.
Use this time for the care of your soul. I don’t know what you think about spiritual things, but spending this time to read, think, pray, reflect and renew your spirit is the last but certainly not the least part of being happy and content (in fact it goes along with the first). You will have to search for who God is, what do you feel your purpose is in life, what are your passions and what are the core beliefs that lead you to do what you do in life. This too is ‘creating beauty”, within you.
Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. – Helen Keller
Happiness is being content with who we are and knowing that whatever is happening to us, will make us better for having lived and experienced it. You are not broken. You are unique. Start learning about who you are today. I challenge you to spend a half hour a day just being with yourself reflecting on your story. I would love to hear some of your ‘war’ stories that has lead you to be content and happy where you are. Stories are the most important thing about knowing who we are.