Isn’t the ultimate goal for us to be happy? It’s something that each and every one of us truly wants but we can easily get caught out in the weeds during our search for it. Whether we’ve fallen off the path or in a new search of it, happiness is something that each of us deserves to experience. So why is this so hard for some of us to find when we all want it so badly? Perhaps a good place to start would be in taking a look at what happiness really is.
Many clinically-based definitions focus on the consistent state of experiencing positive emotions along with the strong ability to mitigate the damaging effects of negative emotions. What?? For the rest of us, I like to think of happiness as that emotion that brings about feelings of: pride, excitement, enjoyment, “warm fuzzies”, contentment, and joy. As that first definition suggests, being happy doesn’t mean that you’re immune to sadness, disappointment, frustration, or the “blahs”. Contrary to popular belief or desire, it’s okay for different emotions to cohabitate (remember the ending of “Inside Out” when the memory balls were multicolored?). An authentically happy person is able to consistently experience that true joy and zest for life and, in turn, successfully work through those “yucky” times with greater ease than unhappy people.
I can almost hear some of you saying, “yea, but what is it? What will make me happy?” Not that I necessarily want to play that ‘counselor card’, but you already have that answer inside of you. No one can tell you what makes you happy; only you can identify things that make you happy. So, think on it for a minute. What things truly light up that fire inside of you and leave you feeling like you’re wrapped in a soft, cozy blanket? For some, happiness is just that – wrapped up tightly in a fleece blanket, snuggled up on the couch watching a movie. For others, it’s out hiking in the greenbelt on a warm sunny day. Others experience happiness in being surrounded by close friends or family members. The point is, happiness looks different for each and every one of us and it’s our job to figure out what those things are that bring us happiness; we can’t rely on someone else to do that for us.
Still having a hard time pinning down things that make you happy? Here are a few things that you can do to help:
Practice gratitude: be thankful for the things that you have and for the people that are around you. By counting your blessings and reframing your thoughts to ones of giving thanks, you’ll find that you experience more optimism and gratefulness throughout the day.
Cultivate relationships: we all have an inherent need for human contact and it’s through this contact, that we’re able to create a foundation of security and peace. Whether it be an intimate relationship or a social relationship, it’s important that we all have a network of people that we can share our happiness with and who can support us when the happiness fades a bit.
Get off your rear: stop creating a permanent divot in your couch and get out and enjoy the outdoors. Many studies have shown that sunlight and nature have a tremendous benefit on our mental health and our happiness. Go explore a new biking trail, join a Meet-Up group, take in some live music, or enjoy a nice café latte at your favorite coffee house. Regardless of what you chose, get up and do it!
Be kind: doing nice things for others makes us feel good about ourselves. More importantly though, being kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same amount of love, appreciation, and forgiveness that you want others to give you. To me, loving yourself is the key to true happiness.
This list could go on and on for happiness is found through a multitude of ways. The bottom line, though, is that you need to take action and hunt down your own happiness. You will soon find that your true happiness is often right in front of you. Pick it up and embrace it! Every single one of us deserves to feel that highly sought after joy, excitement, and peace.