Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.Abraham Lincoln
We all want happiness. Even more, we want the secret formula for how to create it.
This vital human experience is as elusive as it is visceral and as personal as it is universal. We all know when we feel it but when it comes to describing or defining it, words often fall short.
And, as the saying goes, ‘happiness is fleeting.’ This is especially true when it’s bound up in the conditions of life or the actions of others. Happiness, in its most reliable form, rises up from within you.
If I’m Happy, You’re Happy
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.Gretchen Rubin
It’s pretty common to think that if you focus on making someone else happy, you’ll be happy, too. While it may seem contrary, if you don’t know what makes you happy, you’ll never really be able to make someone else happy.
If you’ve traveled by plane, no doubt you’ve heard the flight attendant give the pre-flight instructions. If trouble comes and the air masks drop down, be sure to put yours on before attempting to help anyone else.
The recipe for happiness is pretty similar. Make sure your happiness is on before you attempt to help others. That way you won’t find yourself drained, confused, and, well, unhappy.
Happiness is not a goal…it’s the by-product of a life well-lived.Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that happiness is ‘out there,’ something to be achieved, pursued, or caught. If that’s true, then you should be able to run fast enough to catch it. Unfortunately, all that effort usually leaves you empty-handed and short of breath.
You’ll never arrive because its true nature arises from what you experience inside of you.
Begin by shifting your mind into more full awareness of the present. This mindfulness holds a powerful key. Instead of looking outside of yourself, attend to this moment and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Observe and acknowledge what comes.
In this moment of quiet observation, check in with your values. They’re guideposts that point your way toward experiencing more positive emotions. See how the current situation either nurtures or conflicts with your values. This is the inner version of putting on your air mask first.
5 Ways to Find Happiness
There actually is a recipe for happiness. It’s simple but it requires time and attention. It starts with the center of who you are and expands out into the world, eventually encompassing all of life. Here are the 5 key ingredients:
- Take time to become clear about what qualities you value most in yourself and others.
- Become familiar with which situations create positive or negative emotions within you. Consider how you can choose to experience positive ones more often.
- View the negative ones as opportunities to develop greater clarity about what gets in the way of your happiness.
- Connect to your life purpose in order to experience a sense of meaning and fulfillment along with those positive emotions.
- Once you have your happiness on, you are ready to share it with others.