This post is inspired by the many conversations I have had based on Two Steps Back……
I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately. I have had a lot of conversations focused on happiness. So what is happiness?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines happiness as good fortune, a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience, a striking happiness of expression.
Pretty broad if you ask me.
The definition also did not fully answer my personal question of what is happiness? Specifically what does it mean?
I have spoken to numerous friends and colleagues since Two Steps Back…. posted. The conversations focused on how the post related to their lives and what it meant to them. It was an unexpected surprise for me. The conversations made me feel happy. The conversations made me think about happiness.
Based on these conversations I found some common themes. The first is an individual defines happiness for themselves. The behaviors, circumstances, events, or people that will make an individual happy will differ from person to person. It is not a one size fits all definition. Find what makes you happy and do it. Pursue it. Chase it. Live it. Be happy.
Do not let anyone define what makes you happy. If you live by someone else’s definition it will not be natural and will probably not lead to your personal happiness. Also do not let anyone judge you for what makes you happy. No one has the right to take it away from you.
The second is happiness is a lifelong journey. The things that will make you happy today (Walt Disney World) may not be the same things that make you happy in 10 years (we will see when we get there). The things that made you happy 10 years ago (college parities) may not be making you happy today (going to sleep early). Be ok with that part of happiness. It changes just like the rest of your life. Do not make your happiness contingent on certain events to occur. You will never get there if you do.
I have experienced some really sad days in my life. Days that landed me on the bathroom floor in tears without the strength to get up off the floor. I have lost a lot of people in my life. People that were my rock, inspiration, and strength at that time. I thought that I would never get over these losses and my life was never going to be complete. I was only in my early 20’s during this time (more on this at a later date). Today I can tell you these were all events that lead to new robust chapters. I would never change a thing 🙂
The third is be present in the moment. Give your full attention to the moment. Do not get distracted (by inner thoughts, situations, phones, or anything else). Do not miss out on the moments of life. Listen to your intuition about a person, place, or situation.
While technological advancements have brought a lot of positives (keeping people in contact in different parts of the world, connecting people around the world) it can also be very distracting. Put that phone down. Walk away from social media. Actively listen to the conversation that you are engaged in. We can miss so much by not being fully present.
The fourth is take care of your relationships. All the relationships in your life. This includes family, friends, colleagues, and extended networks. The most important relationship to take care of is the relationship with yourself. Do not forget about yourself. Know yourself. Make yourself happy first. Take care of yourself.
In order to have successful relationships, you need to know who you are as an individual. This includes your likes, dislikes, boundaries, what you bring to the relationship, and contributions to the world. You have a beautiful role in this world. Find out what it is and live it. Do not do the world a disservice and not bring your talents to the table.
Happiness also does not mean that your life is perfect. I can say that I am at a happy point in my life. I can also say that it took a very long time to be able to say that (close to 30 years). Again, this does not mean my life is perfect. There are plenty of things that I wish I could change/adjust/shift but that will always be a part of life. It also does not stop me from being happy with this current chapter in my life.
I plan on enjoying every minute of this new chapter 🙂