Over the years I have had the opportunity to study leadership and success. I am struck by the connections between each area and how those connections are similar for happiness as well.
Your first test on happiness:
- Do you want to:
- Receive happiness like winning the lottery or receiving a gift?
- Experience happiness as a state of mind?
If you choose A, then you may be waiting for a while, possibly forever. However, if you choose B, then we, the team at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org, have a lot to share that may be helpful.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, explained that happiness is created through our daily intentional activities. This is consistent with Leadership and Success as well. Happiness is within our ability to control with what we do in our daily lives and how we think.
Here are 4 concepts that will provide a framework for exploring happiness.
The first concept 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 at the possible risk of negative long-term outcomes; the pursuit of happiness consists of intentional activities and habits that promote long term health and well-being.
The second concept is taking control of your life. George Bernard Shaw although a little gruff, was headed in the right direction when he explained pursuing happiness as, “…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. “ Do you own your decisions and the consequences of those decisions? Are you deciding every day to invest in the habits and activities that will lead to happiness or are you waiting and hoping that happiness will find you?
The third concept is cultivating close positive relationships. Do you have a few close friends you can talk to and share tell about your failures and successes? People who know and appreciate the real you, the good and the bad? Are you caring and sharing in the community? Is there a person, group, or cause that you care for and give to? The acts of sharing our true selves with others and caring for others are the most important things we can do to generate happiness and contentment in our lives.
The fourth concept is finding and expressing purpose and meaning. The full George Bernard Shaw quote is:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish little selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
Do you have something bigger than yourself to focus on? Is there something bigger that you believe in or something that you know you were meant to do? For many people this can be expressed in their religion or other spiritual pursuits. Others may focus on their children or their meaningful contributions.
In summary, if you are choosing to pursue happiness:
- Understand the difference between Pleasure and Happiness
- Take control of your life and your happiness.
- Develop close positive relationships and care for others.
- Find and express purpose and meaning in your life.
As described above for happiness, leadership and success require a long term perspective, action and ownership, strong relationships, and a sense of purpose.
Also like Leadership and Success, happiness is not a possession that can be acquired. It is a state of mind resulting from the cultivation of intentional daily habits. It has to be pursued, explored, and experienced on an on-going basis. Find out more about how to cultivate Happiness Habits at Pursuit-of-Happiness.org.