What is Happiness?

What we are talking about when we say “happiness?” Happiness means many different things to many different people. Happiness is a higher-level pursuit or achievement. Several authors and philosophers have captured this concept:

 

Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk with a degree in Molecular Genetics, and author of the book Happiness says “Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that pervades and underlies all emotional states and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way.”

 

Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

 

Gandhi also said “Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.”

 

Robert Ingersoll stated “Happiness is not a reward – it is a consequence.”

Deepak Chopra said “Happiness is more than a mood. Its a long-lasting state that is more accurately called well-being.”

 

Wayne Dyer, a self-development author and speaker, explains that “Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think.”

Margaret Lee Runbeck, another author, wrote “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”

Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle proposed that “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

 

George Sheehan, a doctor and author, wrote “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.”

And finally, John B. Sheerin said “Happiness is not in our circumstances but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are.”

They all describe happiness as something that is within you, something that you create, rather than something that comes from external forces.

What is happiness?

  1. Happiness is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
  2. Happiness is a sense of inner peace vs. external restlessness.
  3. Happiness is an on-going state of well-being vs. a fleeting experience.
  4. Happiness is a state of mind, rather than an event or activity.
  5. Happiness includes bad as well good experiences.
  6. Happiness is internal and not a victim of external experiences that we can’t control.
  7. Happiness is created, not received.
  8. Happiness is within our control.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #72 – Talk About Your Feelings of Shame and Rejection

happiness_talk_about_it

 

We evolved to be social.  In groups we were able to find more food and protect ourselves from threats much more successfully than we could do alone.  Survival was based on our ability to remain a part of a group. If we did not fit in or were not a contributing member and were kicked out of the group, then we literally might not survive alone.  That now plays out in our modern brains as a need to fit in and be liked. When we feel like someone might not like us or might not see us as valuable, our survival instincts kick in and we literally feel fears and emotions that are usually reserved for life-threatening situations. We are able to intellectually understand that being rejected shouldn’t be a big deal, but our subconscious is screaming at us that we are in danger of not being able to survive.  Those two competing forces cause us to have feelings and take actions that don’t always make sense to us and can often derail our calm façade.

The good news is there is a solution. By just becoming aware of what is causing this conflict, we can become better at managing it.  If we understand and admit that we are feeling rejected and fearful, we can start to deal with the real feelings we are experiencing, even if we intellectually believe it shouldn’t be that big of deal.  Recognize the panic and the shame you feel when you are left out or not appreciated. Admitting those feelings is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of strength and your ability to deal with the deep seeded emotions we all feel.

Be vulnerable. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings of shame and rejection.  Share and work through these feelings that are real and impactful in your life. Be your true self and admit your true feelings, and you will be happier and more successful.

 

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #10 – Make an Impact

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

I had the privilege and luck to know and work with Alexia for a year and a half. In that time I found she was kind hearted, professional, and a joy to work with and know as a friend. As a Resident Assistant for about a year before Alexia arrived at Honors Hall I thought I had a measure for the kind of people I would encounter at my job. Alexia surpassed my expectations. It isn’t hyperbole to state that by the end of her first week she knew more about being a good RA than I did. Outside of work she brought a fire to the honors hall community that never existed before her.     Eric Johnson

 

Lesson: Make an impact.

How do you move through the world? You can demand the world adapt and change to your needs or you can make a positive impact and leave good feelings wherever you go. You can “go through the motions” and exert as little effort as possible or you can bring your passion and creativity to your job and other leadership opportunities. As a leader, make it your goal to impact people’s lives in a positive manner. Take passion and caring into every project and every job. Try to make a difference.

Opportunity: Find out where can you make an impact today?

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Are You Chasing Pleasure Instead of Happiness?

The Pleasures that you seek are not happiness at it’s Peak, for it is contentment that gives true fulfillment.  – The Coach

The first concept in connecting happiness and success is understanding the difference between pleasure and happiness. Are you chasing immediate pleasures like sex, decadent foods, couch time, and video time; or are you nurturing relationships, maintaining your health through diet and exercise, finding ways to improve yourself, and being thankful for what is working in your life? The pursuit of pleasure involves feeling good in the short term, and if overdone it can create a risk of negative long-term outcomes; in contrast, the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long-term health and well-being.

Many people mistakenly chase pleasure, believing they are chasing happiness. They often end up unhappy and confused. They become victims of the Hedonic Treadmill: they experience pleasure and then the feeling fades; so they do more to experience more pleasure, but the feeling fades again. No matter what level they take their pleasure to, it only gives them short-term joy; and they eventually end up back at the same level of happiness where they started. By distinguishing between pleasure and happiness, we can help people find something that lasts, a happiness they can call on in good times and bad. We can help them get off the Hedonic Treadmill and create habits that can productively lead to the happiness they are searching for.

Something to note: pleasure is not inherently bad. Pleasure is actually one part of happiness. The goal is not to avoid pleasure. As a matter of fact we should seek pleasure. The challenge is moderation. How much pleasure is too much and when is pleasure connecting us to happiness vs. disconnecting us from happiness? To answer these questions, we need to know the difference between pleasure and happiness.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #71 – Find Ways to Matter

happiness_help_others

We all want to matter and make a difference in the world. The best way to do that is to make an effort to help someone else.  Whether it is a working with a charity, helping a friend move, or just helping a co-worker get through a tough day, being able to make a small impact on someone’s life has a big impact on our happiness and how we feel about ourselves. Because of the chaos of life, we get caught up in our own challenges and what we need from others in order to be successful or happy. We lose track of what really gives us a deep sense of fulfillment and what really makes a difference in our lives. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, we don’t become fulfilled by focusing on and meeting our own needs. Rather than content, that leaves us empty and hollow. We evolved to be social and contributing members to our tribes, so our brains are wired to gain satisfaction when we help others improve their lives.

 

How can you help someone else? How can you reach out and make someone else’s day a little better? Find ways to matter and make a difference for someone else and you will be happier and more successful.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #39 – Include Your Team in the Solution

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

Ray,

Today I spoke with Rachel about the Student Director situation and although it is a curve ball, I’m feeling pretty hopeful about the team finding a solution at our meeting tomorrow. I have also completed all assignments for this week (except for two short quizzes that don’t open until Friday at 12:01 AM) so I am feeling good about academics as well! I am done with my to do list and journaling and I am now off to bed!

Talk to you soon!

Alexia

 

Ray,

We had an interesting first meeting since the news of Student Director leaving. I actually am VERY pleased with the team, their positivity, and the direction we are going from here. I can’t wait to fill you in fully next week!

As for my academic predicament, I have gotten a bit of the run around but now know which classes I have to choose from and who exactly to go to that has the final say if I can substitute or not. (Thankfully I also did extremely well when I took his class so hopefully he will remember me and know that I am a determined student who isn’t trying to cut any corners). So I will be looking at the classes and setting up a time next week to actually meet with him. I also have two appointments set up in the next week with professors who can help guide me and give me knowledge that should help me in my goals to make a decision with CPA vs MBA.

Exercise, journals, and me time are still going well. I have also not felt hot or faint so hopefully my body is recovering well! Sorry for the extra-long email tonight!

Talk to you soon!

Alexia

Lesson: Include your team in the solution.

As a leader, even though you are taking full responsibility for the team, you don’t have to solve every problem yourself. Reach out to the team for answers and for their expertise. Let them step up and create solutions to new challenges. They need the opportunity to lead as well and part of your job as a leader is to know when to be a follower. Reach out to your team for support. Let them solve most of the challenges. You will build a better team with many good leaders and a strong future.

 

Opportunity: Identify what problems you can let your team solve.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

What do Happiness and Success Have In Common?

 

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our lives by similar thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

We have compiled definitions of success from leadership classes, coaching and mentoring sessions, and research. Based on the key words used in each definition, we categorized the definitions into one or more representative concepts. The results were clear: People use similar concepts to define happiness and success, and the two are interrelated. Happiness was mentioned in more than 25% of the definitions of success, and the top two concepts in the definitions of success were the same as the top two concepts in the definitions of happiness.

 

Concept Success Rank Happiness Rank
Contentment (contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment) 1st (tied) 1st
Others (building positive relationships & creating a better world) 1st (tied) 2nd
Achievement (and accomplishing goals) 3rd 4th
Happiness 4th N/A
Wealth (and financial stability) 8th Not Mentioned
Success N/A 7th

 

“Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment.”          

Mathieu Ricard

 

The concept of “Contentment”, which includes contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment, was the top concept mentioned in the definitions of happiness, by a significant margin. It was also one of the most identified concepts in the definitions of success. Different people, in different environments and at different times, all came to similar conclusions when they defined success or happiness. Basically, they all agreed that feeling content, satisfied, and fulfilled in our lives is foundational to being successful and to being happy.

The next highest-ranked concept in the definitions of both success and happiness was “Others”. Others includes building positive relationships with friends and family, contributing to the community, and helping make the world a better place. So most people place a high value on how we help others when they define happiness and success.

The concept of “Achievement”, which includes achieving or accomplishing goals, was the third most mentioned concept in the definitions of success, and was the fourth most mentioned concept in the definitions of happiness. Achievement is part of success, but most people also believe we will be happier if we are achieving.

Interestingly, the concept of acquiring wealth or financial stability was a distant eighth for the definitions of success, only mentioned 6% of the time; and it was not mentioned at all in the definitions of happiness.

When we started this research, our assumptions were that most people would include the concept of acquiring wealth and financial stability in their definitions of success. What we found was that the concept of “Contentment” was significantly more prevalent than the concept of wealth in their definitions. They indicated that money in the bank, a nice house, or a nice car, are all just means to help them feel contented, fulfilled, and satisfied.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #70 – Today is Your Day

happiness_happy_now

 

Happiness is right now.  There may be better or worse things in your past, but those things don’t matter now.  You may have big plans, hopes, and dreams for your future, but there is no reason you have to wait for those to be happy. Your happiness is dependent on what you do with what you have today. You can choose to appreciate and build on what you have or you can choose to lament what you don’t have. You can mourn the unfair things that have occurred in your past or you can focus on what you can make happen today.  Make today your day.  Be happy today.

 

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”  Dr. Suess

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #26 – Keep Track of Who Signed up for What

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

At every meeting and through email when we weren’t having meetings, Alexia would ask each of us about our deliverables. She usually took notes on the agendas and wrote down what everyone was responsible for. She always knew what we needed to do and checked in to confirm it had been done. We felt accountable to deliver for her each week. Several of our team members had other priorities and if Alexia hadn’t stayed on top of it, they would not have put in the time to work on the PLP stuff.     Austin Hatcher

 

Lesson: Keep track of who signed up for what.

A simple step for being an organized leader is writing down the actions each person has agreed to take and by when they will be completed. This small task keeps the teams on track and helps ensure the team is actually accomplishing something vs. just meeting, talking, and coming up with great ideas, but then not getting anything done. As a leader, “Inspect what you expect.” If you expect a team member to accomplish a task, you have to inspect whether they are on track for completion. There will be a few members who don’t need the reminders, but the rest will welcome your help.

 

Opportunity: Determine how you will you track assignments at your next meeting.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Is Your Chase for Success Killing You?

On August 15th, 2013, Moritz Erhardt, an intern working for Bank of America in London, died from complications created by working three days straight without sleep. He was doing a “turnaround,” which consists of an employee working all night, taking a cab home at 6 am, asking the cab to wait while he gets a quick shower and change of clothes, then hopping back in the cab to go back to work. He never got back in the cab. He was found dead in his shower. What happened?

Moritz’s death is a dramatic and immediate example of how our culture encourages many people to blindly chase success while being oblivious to the negative impacts it has on their happiness, on their health, and in certain cases on their lives. For most people these things develop over decades. The signs are there, but they are much more subtle and obscure.

I have worked with dozens of people over the past decade who speak about, research, and live happiness and success. We have analyzed definitions of success collected from hundreds of  people and found that most contained the word “happiness,” or at least concepts related to happiness. Most people connect success and happiness in their minds but have difficulty making the connection in their actions. Much like Moritz, only to a lesser degree, they pursue success single-mindedly, with the expectation that they will be happy once they achieve success; and that the more success they achieve, the happier they will be. Unfortunately that formula is backwards.

Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Personally, I have been in business settings for over 35 years, and I have seen hundreds of examples of people working hard and unwittingly sacrificing happiness in pursuit of success, which they think will make them happy. It starts out innocently enough–not having time to go out with friends, not getting home in time for dinner with a spouse or kids, not having time to exercise or pursue a fulfilling hobby–but soon amounts to missing positive moments in life because they are busy trying to build a life that will be full of positive moments.

The drawback doesn’t reveal itself until 5 or 10 years down the road, when a goal set early on has been achieved (a raise, a promotion, or a nice car); but for some reason, the satisfaction and fulfillment that were supposed to accompany the goal…don’t. I have seen both men and women break down crying from the stress of wanting to give 100% in their work, yet feeling sad and unfulfilled because they were missing time with their new baby or significant other. Have you ever met someone who felt they’d missed their biggest opportunity? It’s sad. Because missing important moments in your life leads to stress, and stress leads to unhappiness, disease, and a host of other challenges.

One example is a woman I worked with. Her name was Tina.

Tina was poised and confident, the kind of person that her peers wanted to emulate and every manager wanted to hire. She showed great leadership and had tremendous success early in her career. Five years, two promotions, and one baby later, she was sitting in a restaurant, tears streaming down her face from the stress of trying desperately to be successful in so many areas of her life while wondering what happened to the promise of happiness. She is one of hundreds of examples that played out in many different ways, but always had the same root cause. The long hours of hard work and dedication were never paid off with happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. They only led to more long hours and hard work in trying to reach the next goal, which itself was supposed to lead to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Let me say it again: Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

 

The challenge is that people get caught up in an ambitious chase for success and unwittingly delay or even bypass their opportunities for happiness with the belief that happiness would come after the project was finished, after the next promotion, after the next big bump in salary, or after they land that next perfect job. Too often, it doesn’t come as expected, and they end up forever looking over the horizon believing that happiness is just over the next hill. Those I have observed who did find happiness made simple, uncomplicated choices and changes in their lives. They found the secrets of happiness, and as a result, also became much more successful in the process.

 

Do you think your chase for success will lead to happiness?

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.