Stuff you might not know about everyone’s ultimate goal
Most of us have heard a million “secrets to happiness,” so many that they seem collectively cheap and useless. But the nagging question remains: am I happy? It can be an uncomfortable question we can’t help but ask ourselves from time to time, and one that we might not have a good answer for. Some trick themselves into believing they’re happy, while others are convinced happiness is a distant, seemingly unobtainable object.
The human journey is largely a quest to determine what happiness is, how to obtain it, and how to maintain it. So let’s dive in!
What is happiness?
Happiness can be momentary, a feeling that washes over us. It can also be a lasting sense of satisfaction. Some just feel good on a day-to-day basis and call that happiness.
It may be that happiness doesn’t have a snappy one-line definition. Perhaps it’s better to think of an array of positive feelings or traits, like peace, motivation, love, kindness, thankfulness, balance, enthusiasm, humor, inspiration, etc. Happiness could be thought of as the bucket that carries these traits. How full is your bucket?
It’s a great goal to fill your buckets with these feelings, but where do these feelings come from, or what causes them? Research suggests that happiness is a combination of three things:
- 40% thoughts, actions, behaviors
- 50% genetics
- 10% circumstances
Two things about this data should stand out: circumstances don’t matter as much as a people think, and happiness is easier for some than others. That said, happy feelings are attainable for everyone, so don’t blame your genes in despair.
A good first step toward a happier life is to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing marauding as happiness. Here is what happiness is not:
- Feeling like you’re in a Pollyanna musical at all times
- Having more money than you ever needed
- Ignoring everything negative in the world
- Something you’ll get in the future
Quotes to Learn From
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.”
Anthony de Mello
“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
“Happiness is a state of activity.”
What is life like for happy people?
It seems silly to ask what the benefits of happiness are, since the feeling itself is perhaps the greatest treasure a person can have. But here are some things research says are natural byproducts of happiness:
- More productive
- Treated better by others
- Seen as being more attractive
- More sincere
- More successful
- Less stressed
- Better within relationships
- More creative at problem solving
- More charitable
- More likely to volunteer and help others
How to Be Happier
- Nurture your relationships. Have a good conversation with a friend or family member.
- Have a new experience and savor it.
- Help others. Set a goal for helping someone every week or every day.
- Be grateful. Find new things to be grateful for each day. Send a message to someone expressing gratitude.
Happiness is largely a product of the mind, of how you think about things. Stanford psychology professor Carol S. Dweck explains that there are two general mindsets: “fixed” and “growth.” Dweck says that people with a “fixed” mindset don’t believe that their qualities or talents can be changed. You have what you have, so to speak. Those with a “growth” mindset, on the other hand, believe they can develop new skills, strengths, etc., and that nothing is set in stone. Happy people therefore, are generally more positive about the future and about their future selves.