“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” – Dali Lama
A summer day down at the lake, running in the park with your children, sipping hot tea with your nose in a good book, completing a big project at work and presenting it with pride to your boss, riding the fastest roller coaster at the fair, waking up to the first dusting of snow on the ground.
Happiness can conjure many images, feelings, and ideas in our minds. It is both a state we can float in and out of each day and a result from actively making choices that align us with our best selves.
Perhaps you know exactly what makes you feel happy and you actively seek it.
Maybe you only truly know happiness when you’re in it.
It could also be that it’s been a while since you’ve felt truly happy and can’t remember clearly how to get there.
Whatever the case, happiness is a state of being that is often elusive, euphoric and something we all yearn for.
The great thing about happiness is that it’s not something that happens TO you, but rather a state you can seek out and invite into your life as often as you like. To put it simply, we are in charge of our own happiness. So much so that the majority of research looking at happiness uses a system of evaluation that is based on the individual’s interpretation of their experiences, how they perceive the events of their life, the way they interpret their own well-being. It is our evaluation of whether or not we are happy that counts as far as the research goes.
There are many internal and external factors that play a role in building our own sense of happiness. As we mentioned, these can range from feelings of gratitude for time in nature to pride after crushing a hard workout. The more we become in touch with who we are and what makes us feel happy, the better we can begin to manipulate these factors to amplify the happiness in our lives!
For example, it likely comes as no surprise that negative thoughts do not contribute to a sense of happiness. Through different practices and techniques, we can begin to break these habits of negative thinking and create space for more positivity and optimism. The latter emotions are sure to bring about an increase in feelings of happiness.
The most encouraging thing to note here is that we can improve the happiness levels in our lives. It is in our hands.
Throughout the month, we will be diving into who we are as individuals and what makes us feel happy. These explorations will lay the groundwork for exploring Joy in the future. What’s the difference, you might ask? Where happiness can come from enjoying the little moments in our day to day life, joy is derived from the deeper connections and activities that fill us with a sense of meaning and purpose. Throughout the next few months, we will explore what makes YOU feel happy and joyful!
Because happiness is so subjective, we can’t guarantee that any one change will bring about more happiness in your life, but Benjamin Disraeli said it best: “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”
So get ready to get to know yourself a little better and create a roadmap to happiness that is sure to motivate and inspire!
IRL – In Real Life: What makes you happy?
“I am so lame! Why am I no fun??” As amusing as this question may seem, it’s what I asked my friend, parked in his car at the beach, close to tears. A group of friends had invited me to join them camping for the weekend and I politely declined, offering a white lie as a reason for my reply. I couldn’t tell them the truth… I was worried they would judge me and then decide not to include me in things in the future.
The truth was, I didn’t want to go camping. I always have a terrible sleep, end up covered in mosquito bites, and feign laughter when everyone has had too much to drink and they think their jokes are super funny. I don’t like camping. It’s not fun for me.
But this got me thinking… camping isn’t the only thing that many people enjoy, and do purely because it brings them happiness, that I have absolutely no interest in.
I don’t want to go paddleboarding. I don’t drink alcohol, so epic parties and nightclubs are sort of out. I kinda hate board games. The reality was setting in – I don’t like doing the kinds of things that other people find “fun”.
I must be the least fun person in the world!
Why don’t I want to be happy?
What’s wrong with me?
Thank goodness my friend was there to talk some sense into me. He said something to me that changed everything: “Maybe you just have a different definition of fun. What things do you do that make you happy?”
Well! This was super easy to answer!
I love going to bed early with my current loan from the library. I love knowing that all my receipts are organized and delivered to the Bookkeeper on the first week of each month. Spending an evening at home with my husband, Netflix, and a nutritious meal is perfection. I love going for long walks with a great podcast. Accomplishing a task, be it small or large, is one of my absolute favourite things. I love working on Olympic Weightlifting at my CrossFit box and getting lost in the details of these dynamic movements.
It turns out that I am fun! My life is full of fun and happiness, but I couldn’t see it when I tried to evaluate my happiness based on someone else’s set of criteria.
Since then, I regularly spend time looking at the areas of my life that aren’t bringing me happiness and consider if I am only doing them because I feel like I “should”. I acknowledge and appreciate the moments, events, and thoughts from each day that brought me happiness through journaling and gratitude. This practice makes it easier to determine what I will do tomorrow and how I want to live my life.
Happiness can still be elusive some days, but knowing what things bring me feelings of pride, excitement and contentment gives me the power to change my state efficiently and effectively. For me, happiness is often only one decision away.
Questions to Ponder:
What feeling words (use the list below) do you associate most strongly with “happiness”?
What activities make you feel these feelings, and thus, make you happy?
Is there anything you do that “should” make you feel happy but doesn’t?
Before we jump on our Family Corner call next week, here are a few things we want you to do:
- Take 20-30 minutes to complete the free, online Enneagram Test This is a personality test that will shed some light on who you are and what makes you tick. We will be sharing results and insights on the call, so don’t miss your chance to get this done.
- If possible, encourage your spouse to do the test as well! This is a great “date night” activity and will be so enlightening for both of you. The more we understand each other, the easier it will be to connect and support one another.
- Once you and your spouse have both completed the test, check out this page where you can see how your two types combine together in a relationship! Write down any interesting insights you have from this process.