Happiness

Everyone I know is searching for happiness. Most of us find it for brief moments in our life, but enduring happiness seems difficult to achieve. In the famous words of Henry David Thoreau: “Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

Perhaps if every morning when we wake up, we express gratitude for the things that we have instead of complaining about the things we lack, happiness would be more willing to accompany our day. Barbara Held of Bowdoin College says:

“Life is suffering. No amount of positive thinking will change this truth. Processing a life experience through a grateful lens does not mean denying negativity. It is not a form of superficial happyology. Instead, it means realizing the power you have to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. It means reframing a loss into a potential gain, recasting negativity into positive channels for gratitude.”

We live in a consumer based society. From our earliest years we are taught that having things like a comfortable home, a nice car, perhaps even a yacht or a plane will make us happy. Buying things does make us happy, but only temporarily. Eventually we adapt to the things that we buy and then lose interest. Investing in experiences, however, tends to make us happier in the long run. Experiences become a part of who we are as a person and help connect us to others.

Sonja Lyubomirsky taught me a Chinese proverb about happiness:

If you want Happiness . . .

For an hour – take a nap
For a month – get married
For a year – inherit a fortune
For a lifetime – help somebody else

If you have any ideas about happiness, what it is, or how to achieve it. Please let me know. . .

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