Happiness is overrated.
What could I possibly mean by that? Only that if we seek happiness for happiness sake, we’ll probably never find it. So where does happiness come from? (This is a short post about a BIG subject. There is much more information you can find on the web, through books, talking to others etc.)
From my experience and from current research, I would suggest it comes as a by-product of a certain mindset and the activities we pursue.
- Some people are just naturally a little more negative so they need to work at re-programming their mind to see the positive. I’m somewhat like that myself. Because of genetics and environment, I experienced a lot of negative so seeing the positive is something I’ve had to work on. I’m 99% better in this regards. Only when I’m tired do I sometimes need a virtual kick in the pants to get back on track.
- It is through trial and error that we learn what activities, interest, and hobbies bring a sense of happiness. It’s called “flow”. Any wholesome activity that makes you lose tract of time is going to make you feel peaceful, calm and probably happy. For me, it’s anything creative. Painting especially. Reading is another one of my “go to’s”.
But the clincher here is that you may have to try many activities to find the ones that you thoroughly enjoy. DON’T pretend you like something you don’t. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does that makes them happy. It only matters what makes you happy.
For example, I tried golf. I pretended to like it. Finally one day I told my husband, “I’m never golfing again. I don’t like it and I’m not going to pretend that I do.” But I know lots of people who love it. That’s great for them. Everybody needs to know what they truly enjoy doing and then they need to do it. (Remember, I’m not talking about anything illegal, unethical, or that brings harm to others.)
- Finally, after having suggested that happiness is unique to each person, there have been many studies that show there are also universal activities that bring happiness to most people. The most important of these is giving yourselves to others. It can be a family member, a friend, a stranger. It can be through an organization. The “how” doesn’t matter but the “doing” certainly does.
No one, and I do mean no one, is truly happy if they are only thinking of themselves. We were designed to be in relationship with others. If we’re not, then the answer is simple. Find people you can connect with and then make the effort. Everyone has relatives they can connect with. (Even in the most dysfunctional family there are always some that are normal. :)) Reach out to them.
Visit your aging relatives who are homebound. That’s a big one and I know of no one that doesn’t come away from these visits without feeling better. It’s compassionate. It’s “grace” full. It’s rewarding. It’s biblical.
We are not meant to be happy all the time. The truth is, no one is. They just pretend they are. Besides, we all need times when maybe we’re even unhappy for a while. It’s during those time we can reach inside and think through some things. To make some changes. To see our own responsibility for our happiness.
Unhappiness is not depression but it can lead to depression. Many times we have no idea why we’re depressed but we almost always know why we’re unhappy. That means we’ve identified the “why”. That’s a good start. We can take the necessary steps to change what needs to be changed.
I couldn’t end this post without suggesting that God may hold the key to one’s unhappiness. I believe in God. We “talk” everyday. My faith is the foundation for my happiness.
If I had one word that identifies happiness it’s “giving”. Give yourself to others. With your time, your talents and your money.