One of my favorite poets, Hafiz, said this on the topic of happiness. “When all your desires are distilled you will cast just two votes- to love more and be happy.”
Happiness is not the destination- it is the journey. It is not a reward that is granted when you accomplish enough, earn enough, and acquire enough. True happiness is not always easy to find within yourself but it is impossible to find outside of yourself.
Social scientists and psychologists have determined that happiness is a result of three things:
Happiness = The Brain’s Set-Point (the way we look at the world) + Conditions of Living + Voluntary Actions.
Our set-point makes up 50% of our happiness. Our set-point is formed at an early age based on our environment, our upbringing and to some extent our genetics. Do you look at the world and see opportunities or problems. Is your glass half empty or half full? Although your set-point is formed when you’re young it can be expanded through things like meditation.
Your conditions of living make up 10% of your happiness. This includes your relationship status, your financial status, and your health status. Because these things are all external they are not as significant to our happiness- despite popular belief. Studies have been done measuring the happiness levels of people that win the lottery. At the time of winning their happiness level spikes but within a relatively short amount of time their happiness level returned to the same point it was before winning the lottery. Money, material possessions, relationships – all of these things that we strive for to be happy only provide momentary fulfillment. They are not the secret to lasting happiness.
Our voluntary choices- more specifically, the daily activities that bring us happiness and fulfillment make up 40% of our happiness. This is increased as we make nourishing choices in our lives, as we get closer to living our true purpose and when we take time to make others happy. One of the fastest ways to feel happy is to make someone else happy.
See the connection between everything that exists and before you act ask yourself, is this choice going to make me happy or unhappy? Will this choice make others happy or unhappy? If you want to test out the theory, for the next 7 days commit each day to doing something to make someone else happy. This could be a random act of kindness for a stranger, to doing something thoughtful for someone already in your life.
Or, if all else fails maybe just listen to these 5 songs and hope the message will seep in through osmosis:
- DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY – Bobby McFerrin
- LOVELY DAY – Bill Withers
- WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD – Louis Armstrong
- PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART – The Isley Brothers
- ON TOP OF THE WORLD – Imagine Dragons
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.- Buddha
By Megan Monahan
[main page photo credit Halstenberg Studio]