What is your one biggest hope to gain out of life? The average person, when asked this question, may give a variety of answers, but what those answers often boil down to is that the person wants to achieve happiness. But what exactly is happiness? Until someone understands what it is and how to achieve it, they are unlikely to recognize it, even if it exists. Here we’ll take a look at four facts about happiness and how to achieve it.
Believe You Can Choose Happiness
Most people believe that they have to get something or achieve something in order to be happy. They think that it’s about a destination rather than understanding that it’s more about how they feel along the way. The first key to achieving sustainable happiness is to come to believe that you can choose to be happy 1.
A person can chase after money, love, fame, or power, but it’s not until they understand that happiness is a choice that they begin to feel and act differently. Happiness is something one can experience throughout all of life’s ups and downs, but people are unlikely to have it on a consistent basis until they reach that understanding. Even when someone is facing very challenging times, it is the belief they have about it that determines their feelings. If they feel they are doing something that they want to do and that they choose to do, then they will look at the challenge as invigorating, whereas another person will see it as a burden.
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It is coming to understand that the powerful feeling of happiness really is a choice and not about any circumstances you’re currently experiencing. Even in difficult times, a person can have a general sense of happiness if they fully understand that it is within their power to choose to be happy. Making the choice to be happy is something that should be made at the beginning of each day. A person, upon waking, can decide that they will meet all of life’s ups and downs of today with happiness in their heart.
Pursue Those Things That Have Meaning To You
In survey after survey, it has been found that those who are always in the pursuit of things that have deep meaning to them are the happiest. Those who have not even thought about what has meaning to them, who work at jobs they do just for the money, have no direction, and they haven’t set any goals they’re trying to achieve, are the least happy. To be happy for most people requires that they do things that are meaningful to them so that they feel a sense of satisfaction.
Achieving a sense of satisfaction is a key factor in feeling happy. Even when someone works in a job that is not particularly appealing, they can pursue a sense of satisfaction by determining that they’re going to do the best job possible. Even when the work itself is unsatisfying, the achievement of doing a person’s best every day can be fulfilling and can bring happiness.
Very often, when a person feels unsatisfied, it’s really just a matter of their outlook on their situation. If a housewife feels unfulfilled, then she may feel that her life is unsatisfying and this will bring about a feeling of discontent and unhappiness. But if she were to simply discover an activity that she found satisfying and rewarding, then she could put her effort into doing it well and this would bring about feelings of happiness.
If a man or woman is in a career that they feel isn’t what they enjoy, yet they choose to do that job to the best of their ability, then they can be satisfied in their effort. Another person will simply see the job as something they don’t like and often they won’t look for any ways to get satisfaction from it. It is your beliefs and your mindset that will determine the outcome.
Stress today plays a major factor in many of the modern chronic illnesses that people suffer from, and it’s also a leading cause of depression and general dissatisfaction in a person’s life 2. Finding ways to alleviate stress is another major step towards sustainable happiness. In order to reduce stress, you first have to learn what exactly is causing it. Often, we think that an underlying circumstance is a cause when it’s only a symptom caused by the root problem.
A good example of this is a spouse that feels that their significant other is the cause of their unhappiness. Very often the reality is that the individual is feeling insignificant and unsatisfied with their life and they are projecting those feelings onto their spouse and blaming the spouse. The root cause, however, is the feelings of dissatisfaction and discontent.
If the individual can find meaning in their life and they can discover the fact that happiness is a choice, then the discontent tends to disappear and they suddenly can see that their spouse is a good partner. Of course, there are many that never make this discovery and it may mean that the relationship ends in divorce. But once they understand how happiness is achieved then they are able to recognize that the spouse was not the problem.
Focus On The Here And Now
A substantial study involving over 2,000 participants and done by psychologists at Harvard University found that one of the major causes of discontent was thinking about the past or imagining the future. Those who experienced the most amount of happiness were able to focus on what they were doing right here and now, rather than daydreaming about the past or the future. Part of the human condition is to find discontent as a way to motivate a person’s effort to make things better. But this often becomes twisted so that a person loses the ability to feel content and happy. One of the best ways to overcome this is to practice focusing only on what you’re doing right here and now. The more often that you can do this, the more consistently you will experience satisfaction and feelings of happiness.