Defining Happiness: What does it mean to be happy?
What defines happiness? While it sounds like an easy question, it isn’t. Each person you ask will define happiness differently. If you ask someone with chronic health problems what happiness means to them, they might say the absence of illness. Ask someone who can barely afford to pay their bills, they may say wealth. So is happiness circumstantial? It appears that there isn’t one thing that will make everyone happy. At what point is our happiness defined? When we were children, an ice cream cone brought happiness. When we were in college, a beer brought a whole lot more than joy. As we proceed through our life, our scale of happiness changes as we develop. So how do we nail down what makes us happy?
My Struggle with Chronic Illness
Lately, I have been trying to discover my own happiness. For me, happiness has been defined as the lack of pain and health problems. I am my happiest when I can participate in activities I find enjoyable, live independently, and not worry about my future. However, with my chronic illness the time I spend illness free is minimal. Chronic illness is chronic, meaning there isn’t a cure. It will be a lifelong battle. So does this mean I will never find happiness? I have been thinking about this very deeply and it has really made me think. Centering my thoughts around the idea that I can’t be happy unless I am pain free has limited my perspective. Yes, the feeling of being pain free is liberating. When I get a rare day like that, I think I could conquer that world but the reality is, that isn’t my life. My life and your life will always have a source of pain. You can learn more about my chronic illness here.
Pain Exists Everywhere
Pain isn’t just physical. People have pain in all areas of their life wether it be physically, mentally, emotionally or personally. Yea yea you read that right. We have that one person who is is a HUGE pain in your ass. Your boss, your mother in law, we all have that person in our life that drive us nuts. So back to the question at hand. How do we live happy lives despite circumstances that are unfavorable or cause pain in our lives?
Changing the Way We Think About Happiness
Here is my answer. You may take it for what it is. If it’s wrong please let me know in the comments but you must leave a reason why along with a tip 😉 We have to change the way we think, act, and respond to negativity in our life. Life will never be perfect. Collectively, we need to let go of our grievance and reset our definition of happiness. It is a process that won’t happen over night. When we take responsibility for our lives, happiness, and choices every day, then there will be shift. There is work to do to become “happy” and it doesn’t come from the outside. It is an inner being, energy inside of us that we need to discover. If we can feed ourselves from the inside, we won’t live for outside sources to feed our happiness.
My Personal Happiness
I personally have been so focused on being unhappy I forgot what happiness meant to me. We have been taught that when something hard happens in your life, you must respond with dissatisfaction. However, that simply isn’t true. There are people all over the world that are happy in terrible circumstances. People who not just lack luxuries, they go without food. Yet, they are some of the happiest individuals. So why can’t I be happy? Every time I get another health diagnoses I feel like I should be unhappy and people expect me to be upset. For the longest time, I have reacted that way but I have finally made the separation that my happiness isn’t void of illness or surgeries. Now that I made this decision, I have to put in the work to believe it and think it consciously and unconsciously. I am working on identifying the triggers in my life that make me unhappy. When I am triggered, I am making the decision to be happy regardless of the situation.
2+ 2=4 Just kidding. This isn’t math class but I thought a real example might convey my message. I went to the doctor’s and he said I might have to live with the pain and give up the activities that I think make me happy. I could be upset and think that my life will never be the same but I am making a conscious choice to stay optimistic. What do they know any way? I’ve done a lot of things doctors never said I could. So triggers are one exercise to start shaping your life. There are things you can do every day to help set you on a positive path. Below are 5 easy things I am doing to guide me towards inner happiness each day. I am making a conscious choice to be happy every day when I wake up despite my circumstances.
Daily Tips for Happiness
- I am making a conscious choice to be happy every day when I wake up despite my circumstances.
Your mind is aways going to focus on the negative if you let it. Acknowledge your situation. Take it all in. Process the emotion you feel. Then make a decision to move. Once you make that choice you can get out of your own way.
2. Create a positive mantra you repeat every day.
We are bound to have moments where we question our ability. To find out the mantra that I thought would be most helpful, I created awareness around areas in my life that cause me to feel pain and question my joy. I made the negative thoughts into positive statements. I read these every morning morning and every night. I know I know a mantra. You probably think I’ve gone off the deep end. I swear I won’t start eating my nutrients every day through a straw and am not spending hours on my pillow surrounded by candles meditating. I ,also, thought mantras were for holistic hippies too but it has been so transforming for me. They were really on to something! When you start reciting positive thoughts there will be a shift around you. Don’t believe me now, but give it a try and you can thank me later!
3. Listen to podcasts that focus on personal growth that can teach you how to obtain inner happiness.
We spend so much money on tangible items that we think will buy happiness. It is a guarantee they never will. More often than not, I am victim of this. I think if I have this one outfit I will be happy. If I redo my house I will be happy. But you know what? Happiness cannot be bought. The good news is there are resources all around us that are free tools to help guide us to creating a life rich of happiness. This week I listened to a a Podcast by Tony Robbins titled “Do you want to be Happy”? Search for it in Podcasts and it will definitely populate. You can also view his youtube channel. He has of talks focused on finding your happiness. I would HIGHLY recommend this podcast. This talk helped get me moving in a positive direction. My goal is one podcast a week. Most episodes are only 1-2 hours so this is doable. Listen for ten minutes each day on your way to work.
4. Choose a book in personal development to read every day.
I typically only like books that I can read in one day. We’re talking mostly psychological thrillers. I still read those but I have decided to add personal development to my literature. The goal isn’t to tear through it. I set a goal of one chapter a night or to read at a pace that I can take in the information, process it, and then apply it. This might be only 3 pages a day and that’s fine! This type of reading isn’t meant to be binged. I am currently reading You are a Baddass by Jen Sincero. I absolutely love it. It’s helping me to feel confident with who I am and to change how I think. If you haven’t read it, add it to your list.
5. Give your best every day.
When we give our absolute best every day, we can fall asleep content with ourselves. This doesn’t mean everything goes right. It means you did the best you can. You will realize that when you choose to be the best version of yourself, your happiness will naturally increase. If you don’t have the things you want but make positive steps towards it, how can you not be happy with your efforts? The challenge is conditioning yourself to be happy regardless of the outcomes of the day. It definitely won’t happen over night but when you have acceptance of yourself you’ll, starting moving towards having a sense of pride in happiness in your life.
I have made the decision to invest in my personal development. It is important to make yourself a priority every day. Exercising your mind and emotional intelligence are just as important as physical exercise. The choice to be happy will positively impact our perspective and mindset. I am making the choice to invest in my personal development every day so that I can achieve inner happiness. Do you have any tips on how you achieve happiness? Please share!
Until Next Time,