November 5-11, 2017
National Pursuit of Happiness Week
Thanks to our founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence, US citizens are guaranteed the following rights — Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Since the first full week in November is National Pursuit of Happiness Week, let us focus on that part that brings forth the state of happiness.
First of all, what does happiness mean? According to the dictionary, happiness is a state of well-being and contentment. That certainly sounds achievable, yet for many it remains an elusive state. We are continually searching for that happiness mode. We spend our time, money and energy on things (clothes, possessions, entertainment), on people to hang around with (family, friends, acquaintances, strangers), and on places of interest (travels, adventures). Yet are we satisfied? Do we wonder if any one thing or all combined will provide happiness? Maybe what we should ask ourselves: Do the things I own bring me joy? Do the people that surround me bring me peace? Do the places I visit bring me contentment?
Let me point out that it is the pursuit, the journey that brings forth a life that has a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction. Our government does not promise happiness, only the chance, the opportunity to strive for a state of happiness for ourselves, however we choose to define it.
Ok! So we all have the right to seek a state of happiness according to our own definition. But what does that mean? What is does happiness look like? How do I become happy?
According to a Psychology Today article, researchers estimate that much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.
I love the part that we have control over whether we are happy or not. We have control over those things that spark our own happiness. Let’s look at a couple of questions to get a better understand of how we grasp this personal control. Start off with asking yourself, “Who is it I want to be?” and “What values do I hold dear?” Knowing your life values is an effective tool that guides the choices you face each and every day.
As we rush from task to task, commitment to commitment, item to item, we often forget about happiness. We worry about the next to-do, the next commitment on our social calendar, or maintaining and securing our possessions. We believe multi-tasking and rushing will get it all done, and then… we will find time to be happy.
What happens when we eliminate the frenzied schedule? What happens when we stop the constant push to get things done? What happens when we take a few moments and think about values, goals, true cost and consequences? What happens when we take a page from Walt Disney’s memoir and sit on a bench for just a moment to dream — dream big? Might we find our passion? Might we find happiness buried beneath the rush? Might we find time and energy to pursue the dreams we dream? Might we find our true self and the values we actually hold dear? Perhaps we need to slow down a bit and revisit the value of children’s stories. Many of them hold a surprising amount of wisdom.
“Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart,” said Winnie the Pooh
No doubt you have heard the maxim, “Happiness starts from within.” In other words, you have the answers you need to be that person you want to be if you only stopped for a moment to reflect. Mentally exam your life, your possessions, your relationships… everything, and determine what holds intrinsic value? When you identify what you truly treasure, you are ready to alter the propensity to acquire meaningless, useless stuff in your pursuit of happiness.
Simplifying your life can only occur when you pinpoint and promote those things (people, places, possessions, events) that are most important and hold your highest value. Your next step is to remove those things that distract from pursuing who you truly want to be and what you truly love.
What you value can easily be seen in the relationships you develop, what occupies your time, where you spend your money, and what you accumulate around you. Once you identify your treasures, begin to remove all the physical clutter that surrounds you — sell, donate, recycle, toss those things that detract from your chosen happiness lifestyle. Then begin to eliminate mental clutter. You will discover clearer thoughts, creativity, and an openness to possibilities.
Once you understand what you truly value in life, you can begin the pursuit of happiness. Here are a few tips to get you started:
H = Help others
A = Accept the things you cannot change
P = Practice smiling; it reduces pain, improves mood, clears thoughts
P = Plan fun in your schedule; all work and no play makes for a dull life
I = Invite happy people into your life
N = Never say never
E = Exercise daily
S = Spend less. Money, and the stuff it buys, does not create happiness
S = Spend more time with family and friends
Take time each day to journey to happiness. Follow one or more of these tips and you will surely have a better day.
The truth is,
you can skip the pursuit of happiness altogether
and just be happy. —The Minimalists
I look at the pursuit of happiness as a healthy abundant life — my 2017 resolution. Besides maintaining a healthy body (through clean eating and exercise) and a healthy mind (through continual learning and stimulation), the value of sustaining a strong loving relationship with family and friends is of upmost importance in maintaining a healthy soul. My daily choices are based on those values and the grandchildren top the list. 🙂
How do you define ‘Happiness’? Leave a comment below.