It has been said that everyone is pursuing happiness, whether they realize it or not. Others believe that pursuing happiness never leads to happiness. Another group thinks that pursuing happiness is selfish. Which is correct?
No one knows for certain, but there are many clues regarding what is needed to feel happy.
What do you think would make you happy?
Happiness is not as easy to figure out as you might think:
Those that value happiness the most are not the happiest group of people. Studies show that people that prioritize happiness in life are less likely to be happy than those that do not consider happiness to be important. They are also more likely to report feeling depressed and lonely.
But maybe those that are depressed and lonely are more likely to place a priority on happiness. You probably do not list clean drinking water as one of your priorities, because you already have access to it. If you lived in an area without it, it would certainly be on your mind.
Living a meaningful life is the best way to find happiness. Without any sense of meaning in life, people typically resort to filling that void with the pursuit of power, materialism, or more self-indulgent pleasures such as eating.
What is meaningful? There is no universal answer to this. You get to choose what is meaningful to you. When you do not live your life in a way that you consider to be meaningful, happiness eludes you. You are likely to feel guilty, and guilt and happiness rarely occur together.
There are several things that must be present to experience happiness. Just like you need flour, cold butter, and baking powder to make a biscuit, there are certain things most of us need to feel happy:
The ability to care for oneself and anyone else that person considers their responsibility. In other words, it is hard to be happy if you are 42 years old and living on your sister’s couch. You also will not be happy if you cannot adequately take care of your children.
Something to look forward to. Have you ever noticed how you feel happier and more excited when you have something to look forward to? It might be your birthday, a vacation, or something you have been saving up to buy. It could be anything that is enjoyable to you.
Someone to love and someone that loves you. It is important to have at least one special person in your life. It could even be a close friend or a child.
We are happier when we are making progress with our lives. Losing ground does not feel good. Staying in the same place is boring. Progress is important.
When you can do something that others need and appreciate, you are more likely to experience happiness. Do you matter? If do not think you do, you are going to be unhappy.
Avoid confusing pleasure and fun with happiness. Happiness feels good. So, some people decide that the way to be happy is to feel good. What feels good? Sex, food, alcohol, hobbies, and all other sources of fun and pleasure. While these things can feel great in the short-term, the feeling does not last.
We are all driven to move toward happiness. Some may believe the way to be happy is to be rich, famous, and powerful. Others believe that helping others will make them happy. You must decide for yourself what will lead to your happiness.
Remember that pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. There are plenty of people that commit suicide each year whose lives were filled with fun and pleasure. There is a difference. Go be happy!