Why Happiness?

Having launched this series with a couple of "how-to" articles on the subject of Happiness (Make Conscious Decisions, and Take Full Responsibility for Your Well-Being) it's probably now time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
What is happiness anyway and why make it your choice?

It doesn't take more than a cursory glance online to discover that happiness is a big area of exploration right now.

What is happiness?

In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as "the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one's life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile."

Interestingly, her research also demonstrates that different cultures associate happiness with different things: Americans identify happiness with family, money, success and having fun, whereas Russians link happiness to creating a world of peace, beauty and mutual understanding between peoples.

(How would you define happiness?)

Happiness is good for us.

Research at the Greater Good Science Centre at Berkeley University in Southern California reveals that apart from making us feel good, happiness is good for us. Here is a quick summary:

Happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer. They have better relationships, are more likely to get married and have more friends. They are more productive at work, make more money and are more generous, and they cope better with stress and trauma, are more creative and better able to see the big picture.

Happiness begins with choice.

Whilst it is tempting to think that happiness is a result of good health, more money and fulfilling relationships, (if my life are different I would be happy) in actual fact it's the other way around.

Having money enables a greater variety of external choices, (e.g. where we live, what kind of car we drive and where we send our children to school) but it is the quality of inner choice that characterises the happy person.

Writing in The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People Rick Foster & Greg Hicks interviewed extremely happy people around the world. Their work clearly shows that happiness is a result of a constellation of conscious choices that operate independent of culture, age and socio-economic status. The most foundational of these 9 choices is the intention to be happy, regardless of life circumstances.

It's ok to be happy

In a world that for many is full of suffering, violence and hunger, making happiness a central principle of life can seem an almost immoral choice. At a conscious or unconscious level, many people think "what right do I have to be happy, when so many people around the world, lead such terrible lives through no fault of their own?"

If this is something that bothers you try asking yourself "Does my unhappiness serve other people's suffering? Do I want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?"

No one would argue that energy, optimism and vigour is needed to bring solutions to the problems that the world's faces. If happy people are healthier, more creative and more generous than those who are sick and miserable, could you consider that choosing to be happy, with its attendant benefits, is one of the best contributions that you can make to the world as a whole?

A survey undertaken by the University of Pennsylvania suggests that there are 2 major paths to life satisfaction and fulfilment:

  • A Life of Full Engagement: know your signature strengths, and use those strengths in all aspects of life to create more flow and enjoyment.
  • A Meaningful Life: using your signature strengths in the service of something bigger than yourself.
Which path is more appealing to you?


This product has been added to your cart