What really is true happiness? This is a question that will never grow old. In this post, we will look at true happiness and steps in which you can attain it.
Have you ever come across some people who are in what you may classify as absolute poverty or state of lacking, and yet they are absolutely happy? Like truly happy and content. Or have you encountered a situation where one person is extremely rich and extremely unhappy; while the other is extremely lacking and yet extremely happy? Well, I have encountered both scenarios, quite ironic if you think of it. And so I thought it imperative to talk about what happiness really is and how to find it.
So what is true happiness anyway?
True happiness comes when you feel that your life fulfils your needs. That being said, note that contentment and fulfilment yield true happiness. We are not talking about the fleeting happy feeling you get when you receive a compliment, a first kiss, or a shiny new gift. We are talking about the real deal that lasts even if you are broke.
Have you ever thought about what your needs are? not your wants. For instance, I thrive on love. So long the people I care so much about are in sync with me, I care less if I go to bed on a slice of bread and water. Of cause I want and cherish a scrumptious meal, I love to eat good food, who doesn’t? But love for me is an absolute need. What is your absolute need? what drives your engine?
So then how come some people may be extremely rich and extremely unhappy? Well because maybe riches are not what they REALLY needed. It may be what they had really wanted but turns out they really didn’t need all that money. They may have spent all their energy chasing after the wrong things. Life is all about meaning. Whatever you are chasing, make sure it adds meaning to your life. Most importantly make sure it is leading you towards your purpose.
Okay, so before we understand what happiness really is, perhaps we should define these terms in a quest to better understand what happiness is not;
Excitement: Some authorities define excitement as a sense of exhilaration, the latter being synonymous with warmth, thrill, passion, elation, and other terms of the same category. Excitement is also synonymous with pleasure.
Happiness: Remember that in our definition, we said happiness is when you feel your life fulfills your needs. Well, vocabulary.com defines happiness as a state of well being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It also defines Happiness as that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you cannot help but smile; being the opposite of sadness.
Needs: These are things that you must-have for your life to be satisfactory, and are an absolute necessity usually for survival or for absolute well being.
Needs are neither one size fits all nor generic. Everyone has specific needs that fulfill their particular lives.
Person A may see an intimate relationship and family life an absolute need for the attainment of happiness as it gives her purpose; while person B may see a successful career as an absolute need in her life for happiness.
Person C is an unfortunate person who does not know herself or her purpose in life. No defined goals, no principles, no core values what so ever and is easily swept by the multitudes. She looks at person A and says, “wow, A is very happy, it must be her marriage that brings her joy, I must get married to be happy”. She gets married for the wrong reasons and does not find happiness but sorrow instead.
So she looks at B and says, ‘I must have missed it, to be really happy, I should pursue a successful career”. She breaks her back, finds success but not happiness. She will look at another happy model and pursue that models’ need for happiness. Sadly, she may never find what she is looking for.
Person D is that goal-oriented person that knows for certain her definition of happiness and goes for it, however, she succumbs to the pressures of society and messes it all up. Like an extremely goal-oriented woman who knows that she only finds contentment in her freedom and successful career but succumbs to the pressures of society to have kids. She gets kids and realizes her true happiness comes from her success in career life. She ends up neglecting her kids thus producing delinquents who will be a source of pain in her perfect life.
Which person defines your current position in life right now? Person A, B, C, or person D? Perhaps you’re in a class of your own all together? Please share it with us.
Wants: These are optional desires, things that you can do without. More like accessories. Needs outweigh wants.
Pleasure: This is basically feeling good. A good meal, a beautiful relationship, well-groomed children, good sex, a shiny new ride, etc. are all sources of pleasure. Other dictionaries define it as a state of being pleased, delighted, or gratified. Pleasure brings satisfaction.
Those that mistake pleasure for happiness never experiences satisfaction in life. Because once that excitement or thrill of the moment is gone, all that’s left is a feeling of emptiness and off they go looking for another dose of pleasure to satisfy them. Sadly such people lie on their death bed regretting how they chased after all the wrong things in life. In fact, they think about how much they had missed the whole point.
At this particular point in your life, what is your source of satisfaction? Does it really give you satisfaction or it leaves you craving for much more of it driving you to search for higher heights or new forms of its kind? Does it quench your thirst for purpose or it leaves you more thirsty than you were before? If your answer is yes, you might be pursuing the wrong thing.
Contentment: This is when someone is happy with his/her situation in life. Other schools of thought say contentment is when you have everything you need in life.
So then how can you attain true happiness?
Discover and really know yourself: You can’t know what makes you happy if you do not know yourself. Knowing yourself is also the first step to defining your purpose.
When my ten-year-old son was just joining me in the kitchen some years back, he ignorantly disposed of my potato peeler in the bin one fine day as we were cleaning. According to him, he was helping me get rid of worthless archived items.
When I asked him why he said he did not find it useful so, it lacked purpose, he reasoned (he had never really witnessed me using it). I retrieved it and demonstrated to him with a potato what it could really do. He found it so fascinating that he till date, he freaks out when I peel potatoes without him. Apparently, he enjoys using the peeler; and yet he had discarded it when he did not know what it really was.
Do you know yourself? Do you know who you really are?
Knowing yourself will:
- Help you define your purpose and life will satisfy you. Who doesn’t want to be of good use to life? Remember no purpose is greater.
- Enable you to be in charge of all those aspects of your life that you have control over.
- Enable you to make better decisions
- Make you resistant to peer pressure
- Give you inner peace
Knowing yourself is a prerequisite for setting core beliefs and values. It will be easy for you to know what is really important to you and what matters the most. For instance, before I really discovered who I was, I thought being in everyone’s good books is what makes me happy. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to be in everyone’s good books, someone is bound to dislike you even for no reason at all. So I often found myself in tears.
Accept and really love yourself: You can never be comfortable in the world if you are not comfortable in your own skin. Accepting and loving yourself improves your self-esteem and self-worth which makes it easy for others to love you and to be around you. It is also the first step to accepting and loving others.
Do you love yourself? If not, identifying the things that make you dislike yourself could be the first step. If those things can be changed, start working on them now. If it’s something that you have no control over, for your own sake and those around you, start accepting it all.
Identify and know your needs: Defining your individual tailored basic needs will help you not to lust after other people’s lives. Because you will smile at another person’s success knowing gladly that your life has a unique direction with a whole different definition of success.
Set your priorities right: If you know who you are, you will know what to pursue and what to let go of. You will also know what to give up for what. All your energies and resources are likely to be spent on your top priority. So if your priority is not in line with your purpose, you’re likely to get it all wrong.
Appreciate and savor the little delights that nature has offered you: The other day I walked out of my gate with a big smile and a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction. In my bag was a lemon that I had plucked from my tree that is just across my kitchen door. I couldn’t wait to relish a hot cup of lemon-flavored tea at tea time in the office.
I was deeply grateful that I could just reach out and pluck a lemon at will for free! When three years ago in Lusaka I had to spend money just to enjoy my favorite fruit. Always take time to enjoy the priceless delicacies of life. And these delicacies are all around us.
Be content: Look around you, obviously, there are things that give you so much satisfaction, things that money can’t buy. Things like clean fresh air, love from a partner, friend, or children, the frenzied welcome from a pet when you get home, your good health, the list is endless.
Be content with your partner, your job, your way of life. Be content with who you are and what you have. Change the aspects that you have control over. Accept what you can’t change and just be content.
The secret of contentment is don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t covert. Don’t look at your neighbor’s goods or life. Simply set your own standards and live within your means.
What true happiness really is
True happiness comes when you feel contented and fulfilled with your life. It is smiling at your life despite a few pitfalls or hiccups. True happiness is living a purpose-driven life that satisfies you and gives you undeniable self-worth.
Note that no purpose is greater than another. Mother Theresa drew purpose from her charity works, others draw purpose from preaching, singing, dancing, writing, or governing others. For sure she found true happiness in her works. If something gives you a sense of self-worth and satisfies you, its good enough. True happiness is that priceless virtue that keeps you smiling even in the face of adversity.
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