The Pursuit of Happiness Lies in Intention
Being happy is core to being human. We wish people “happy” birthday, anniversary, and New Year. It’s a primary theme of songs, poems, novels, and children’s stories. Who can forget “and they lived happily ever after?” Young children are often graced with the sentiment to grow up being healthy and “happy.” Undeniably, happiness is essential for a good life.
In today’s high tech world of instant gratification we are constantly bombarded by hype and misconceptions that promise, but fail to deliver, happiness. Madison Avenue’s mantra is “happiness is in your next purchase.” The truth is that happiness is not a commodity to be acquired. It does not arrive at our doorstep. It cannot be given to us, nor can it be won. Even the events that we label as “good” or “bad” have only a modest influence on our sense of happiness. If happiness doesn’t come from such sources, what is it that allows one to be truly happy?
There is a prevailing belief that people are just born happy, or not. True, genetic influence is powerful−upwards of 50% of our disposition, including happiness or the flip side sadness/melancholy, is in our DNA. Another 10% of our emotional state is influenced by daily events, but in the end most of those events are quickly forgotten, leaving no lasting effect on our overall happiness. What we do know is at least 40% of our happiness comes from intention, and that is what this blog is about. Even curmudgeon-types can intentionally learn to be happier. The mission here is to help you the reader, understand the practices, virtues, and values of what enduringly happy people know and then help you go about incorporating these qualities and traits into your daily life. In the process you will come to know and understand that happiness is realized by living fully through life-long-learning, knowing why you get out of bed each day, nurturing relationships (including with yourself), effective self-management, appreciating the many good things and people around you and other qualities to be identified later. For example, ever notice how easy it is to focus on problems, heartache, and disappointment? For example, if someone is driving badly you notice that right away. But how often do you notice the hundreds of good drivers around you? They go largely unnoticed because our brain is simply not wired to automatically look for what is right. We need to consciously seek what is right and good in our lives.
So here’s the homework assignment. Every morning when you awaken and before getting out of bed, think about someone or something for which you have an appreciation. Do the same before you take the first bite of lunch, and then again before you go to sleep. Also, when you experience disappointment, balance it by thinking about two or three things and/or people you really appreciate. Happy people practice appreciation.
Here’s to your own personal pursuit of happiness!
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