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Being truly happy in life

Updated on March 30, 2016

Don't worry and be happy!

Everyone in life is searching for happiness. We have a myth that happiness is something out there to be pursued and sometimes we base our happiness on material things; someone would say I’ll be happy if I I could get married or purchase a car or house or achieving a certain goal. We end up putting our happiness on hold until some future event takes place. Most people set goals to achieve in life and want to achieve those goals immediately and they don’t enjoy the process of achieving those goals, hence they put their happiness on hold. When I was at tertiary, my main focus was to obtain my qualification and go out there to seek a job, but I enjoyed the process of waking up every morning to attend a class and meeting new people, and end up making friends. Seeing a new day every day made me happy.

Happiness start with making a choice every day that whatever happens around you, you will stick to your decision to be happy, I am not saying you should ignore your feelings when something bad happens to you during the course of the day. You may feel pretty angry or sad about it, but you have a choice as to how you are going to respond to that situation. I was admitted at the hospital for three days for chest pains and I saw patients who are seriously ill, and that made me to realise that I have so much to happy and thankful for that was my health. You may not have all the material things that you desire in life, never make a mistake of ignoring people who truly love and care for you just to pursue the things that you think will bring you happiness. Someone once said you may have a million dollar bank balance in your account but once you lose your mother or father; how will you feel?

Happiness is the ability to feel satisfied with one’s life, to enjoy, to have fun and to express positive emotions. There are six core variables that are the best predictors of happiness:

  • Positive self esteem
  • Sense of perceived control
  • Extroversion
  • Optimism
  • Positive social relationships
  • A sense of meaning and purpose in life

Three routes to happiness

  • The pleasant life
  • The good life
  • A meaningful life

Pleasure + Good life + Meaning = Happiness

Pleasure

One route to happiness is through the pursuit of pleasure. Pleasure is the experience of positive emotions derived from enjoying things such as fine food, money, expensive clothes, dancing, movies and intimacy. We may find pleasure in small and even trivial things such as enjoying a cup of coffee or walking the dog. The art lies in uncovering the pleasures that bring the most satisfaction to our lives.

The question you can ask yourself is “What are the activities that bring you pleasure and how often do you indulge in these pleasures?”

But having more of the same pleasure does not guarantee that you will experience more and more pleasure. For example, eating a bowl of ice cream may very enjoyable. However, a second, third or fourth bowl may not as enjoyable as the first, because habituation takes place. Pleasure is not about excess.

Good life

Good life relates to our signature strengths. Signature strengths are personal traits associated with particular virtues that an individual uses daily, in order to experience gratification. The virtues are wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. People using their signature strengths flourish when they are engaged in activities that demand their full attention and involvement. This includes activities as diverse as cooking, taking part in good conversation, performing a challenging task at work, reading a good book and listening to music.

Meaningful life

There is only one thing that we are all searching for in life; it is a life with a meaning. Successful people spend time to find their purpose in life. The question you can ask is why were you born and why in this generation? Other questions that you can ask are what are you passionate about and what is your gift? Find your purpose in life will help you to live a fulfilled life.

Strategies to increase happiness follow the virtues below:

Wisdom and knowledge

Taking up new hobbies and reading about new subjects. Finding new ways of approaching tasks.

Courage

Campaigning for a cause you believe in and completing the projects you planned. Being honest and true to yourself and identifying situations where you fail to act honestly.

Humanity

Helping others – acts of kindness and voluntary work. Telling those you care about that you love them.

Justice

Organising an event to raise money for a charity in your community. Admitting mistakes and apologising. Identifying a leader you admire and listing his/her leadership qualities.

Temperance

Setting yourself a goal and take care not to be side-tracked. Listening carefully before you react or make a decision. When working in a team; giving credit where it is due.

Transcendence

Spending time in nature or you garden to admire the beauty of nature. Keeping the journal and listing each day three things for which you are grateful for. Reflecting on how you dealt with difficulties in the past, and were able to move on.

Enhancing your happiness

Happy people have goals that bring meaning to their lives. They are not only involved in their work, family, social or spiritual lives, but have developed an over-arching, coherent and unique goal for their lives.

People set goals when they discern a discrepancy between their current situation and how they want the situation to be. We experience greater levels of well being when we see ourselves moving towards a goal we value. The pursuit of goals is an indication that we are engaged in life, and the needs for autonomy and competence have been met.

Goals are effective when they are:

  • Clear, specific and concrete – focus attention on creating steps and pursue them successfully.
  • Appropriate and attainable – when goals are unrealistic, we may become frustrated and discouraged.
  • Personally meaningful – we would not be as motivated to achieve a goal if it were set by another person.
  • Supported by others – supported by friends, family and colleagues serves as encouragement and inspiration.

More ways to build happiness:

  • Attending – if you tend to focus on the negative, it becomes increasingly difficult to look on the positive side of things in your life. Unhappy people tend to dwell on their problems. Cultivate the habit of paying attention to all the good things that happen to you, and count your blessings.
  • Interpreting – happy and unhappy people tend to interpret life events differently. Happy people generally interpret events more positively and present with fewer thinking errors.
  • Memorizing – unhappy and happy people often remember events differently. Unhappy people remember negative events in great detail and tend to dwell on those memories. This has a powerful effect on their well being. In contrast happy people choose to nurture and recall good memories. Revisit the good events, add details and reflect on the positive emotions you felt at the time. Replay them and share with good friends.

Happiness is as an important predictor of success in all spheres of life. Individuals who feel their lives and experience a sense of contentment are able to enjoy themselves. Those who are happy are generally more sociable, energetic, optimistic and goal oriented. Choose to be happy today.

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    • Bongzwane profile imageAUTHOR

      Bongani Zwane 

      2 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Yes, I strongly agree with you. Thank you

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I have never really equated contentment with happiness, but I suppose that the two go together. I know there are certain activities that I enjoy because they give me a profound sense of peace and contentment. I pursue them more frequently as a result. Perhaps this can be interpreted as happiness.

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