November 4-10, 2018
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, for the next 30-days, let us focus on what 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 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 we should ask ourselves the following questions:
- Do the things I own bring me joy?
- Do the people that surround me bring me peace and comfort?
- Do the places I visit provide 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 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, 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 happiness. Let’s look a ways to better understand how we grasp this personal control. Start off with asking yourself these two questions: “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 appointment on our 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.
Changes – 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
Your True Treasures
No doubt you’ve 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. Stop for a moment and think about the intrinsic value of your possessions, relationship, commitments… 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 the highest value. Your next step is to remove those things that distract your pursuit of happiness — being who you truly want to be and having 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 happiness. Even mental clutter can be curtailed and eliminated to leave space for 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, unhappy 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 in your pursuit of happiness. Follow one or more of these tips and you will surely have a better day.