Throughout our lifetime we will move in and out of our state of happiness. There are some who will find lasting happiness. There are others who will find happiness to be an ever elusive condition. In both cases, it can take an entire lifetime to understand why there is such a wide gap between the two. That changes today.
We must first understand that happiness is a choice. When we choose to be happy, we work towards maintaining the things that keep us feeling comfortable.
Happiness is a condition of perpetual contentment. The key word here is contentment. While there are things that bring us joy and pleasure from day to day or moment to moment, these are not the same as the things that provide our happiness. Happiness is something we need to understand better to be able to achieve it consistently.
Psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book "The How of Happiness", defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
Using this definition, we can easily see how some people end up in deep depression and spiral towards even more profound emotional distress. Likewise, this clearly shows why those who are consistently happy can more easily maintain their happiness.
For life to be good, meaningful, and worthwhile, it is important to go through a basic checklist of our life.
- How do we feel about the relationships in our life?
- How satisfied are we with our job and our career path?
- Are we meeting our basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing?
- Do we get enough exercise and eat healthily?
- Are we working too many hours and not taking enough time to enjoy life?
Ever look at someone else’s life who has everything you always wanted and wondered, “how could they not be happy?” They have an excellent job. They have a beautiful wife or stunning husband. They have an excessive income, a big house, fancy cars and frequent luxury vacations. Why are they unhappy? Because THINGS don’t make us happy. People cheat on their spouse most often because they want someone more attractive or exciting. It comes from failing to find contentment in the relationship.
Early in my professional career, I was doing a job that paid me quite well. I had the best cars, frequent travel, and numerous perks. But I was miserable. Now, I’m doing a job I love. I have a house but certainly not a mansion. I drive a nice car but it isn’t a luxury brand. I have a wife who is not only beautiful, but she is my best friend. If I won the lottery today, I honestly couldn’t be happier than I already am. All because my happiness comes from doing a job I love, having a loving relationship with my wife, and doing what I can to stay healthy and enjoy the simple things in life.
No one but you is responsible for your happiness. You will not find it in things, and it will not come in a bottle or gift wrapped in a box. You have to go out and get it. You have to decide what it looks like and the actions you need to take to achieve your happiness. Dedicate your life to your contentment and you will discover how your happiness will bubble over into the lives of others.
Happiness is not a fleeting thing. It is a perpetual condition of contentment, and it is up to you to find it, cultivate it and sustain it.