If you ask most people what they want out of life, “to be happy” is often somewhere in the response. They want to be able to appreciate the days and everything that is in them. They crave a life in which they wake up excited about their day and go to bed satisfied with all that they’ve done. (Sound familiar?)
But, is that possible? Can you create a world in which you’re really and truly happy; like deep down in the center of your soul happy?
The answer is that yes you can. The key is to get off the path that you’ve taken so far in your search and put yourself on a new one. One that finally leads you exactly where you want to be – in your very own Happy Place.
Happiness by definition is a “state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That means that even though things may not be going 100% your way, at a minimum, you’re at least content. And, it also means that there are going to be those times when you are truly elated and excited about life.
How do you get there from where you are now? Just ask yourself the following questions:
Have I taken responsibility for my own happiness?
All too often, people make others responsible for bringing their life joy. You hear it all the time when someone talks about a partner or friend and they say, “He (or she) makes me happy.” In actuality, no one can “make” you happy. They can only add to your level of happiness. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the things that make you smile.
You see, if you put your happiness on someone else’s shoulders, they’ll disappoint you every time. They won’t necessarily mean to, but it will happen. Why? Because they are responsible for their own happiness and their way of achieving it won’t necessarily match with yours.
Remember this when someone does something that interferes with your happiness. Unless they’re absolutely ruthless and mean (which most of the time is not the case), it’s likely that they just happened to stomp on your flowers simply because they weren’t looking where they were walking. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you just let it go.
Do I know what makes me happy?
While you may think you do, this answer is often much deeper than just surface goods. For instance, money and belongings may make you smile, but they don’t necessarily add to your life satisfaction level. They might initially, but you need to think long term.
One of the best ways to figure this out is to imagine yourself at the end of your life. As you lie in bed ready to take your last breath, what is it that you would reflect on in your life that made you happy? Is it your family or friends? Maybe it’s something that you did that really helped someone else out and increased their level of happiness?
Discovering what enhances your life isn’t always as easy as it seems so prepare to spend some time contemplating this question. You’ll be glad that you did.
Am I looking outward or inward for my happiness?
If your search for happiness extends outward into your environment as opposed to inward, then you’re likely looking in the wrong spots for it. You’ll never find it because it just isn’t there. (It’s like searching for your car keys in your purse when they’re sitting on the counter. You can dig and dig all you want but you’ll still turn up empty-handed.)
Contentment and elation don’t come from anything in the outside world; they come from within you. Think of it like a baby laughing. When they are truly enjoying themselves, they have that hearty laugh that seems to come from the pit of their belly. It’s as if every cell in their body is smiling.
That’s the place you want to find in your body. The one that makes you so extremely satisfied with life that you can’t help but grin from ear to ear. Turn inward to look for it, because that is where it is waiting for you to find it.
Do I actively pursue my own happiness?
Some people wait for happiness to find them. They sit on their front porch, watching the world go by and wondering why happiness doesn’t walk up the sidewalk, introduce itself and sit down for a while. When it isn’t this easy, they feel let down and disappointed. (Is this you?)
Happiness doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t search you out and try to engage you. No, happiness is something that you have to seek out and sometimes work hard to find. It’s something that requires constant effort because it comes in so many forms that you may not necessarily recognize it when you do see it; or, you’ll think you recognize it and find out that you are wrong.
Do I bring joy into my own life whenever I can?
Just as you have to actively pursue your own happiness, you also have to enjoy everything you have along the way. The more you like the people in your life and the more you enjoy the things you do on a regular basis, the greater the level of satisfaction that you’ll have.
Don’t just sit on the sidelines and not enjoy this great big world. Think of it like your playground and have fun whenever you can. Use it as an opportunity to constantly bring yourself smiles and laughter.
Maybe you enjoy a certain sport with friends or you like to take long walks alone. Perhaps you feel good when you garden or when you help a neighbor in need. The more you participate in events or actions that bring you joy, the more happiness that you’ll experience on a day to day basis.
Am I thankful for what I have that makes me smile?
This is the last question, but it might just be the most important. You may have happiness in front of you right this moment and just not appreciate it. Sure, life may not be perfect for you, but it can still be happy.
When you’re thankful for all of the things that are right in your world versus all of the things that are “wrong”, how can you help but be happy? You start to recognize the beauty that surrounds you and realize that you’re already blessed; you just didn’t realize it.
It’s time to be happy. Celebrate all of the goodness life has to offer. You deserve it.