- Mental Health
How to Increase Your Happiness and Satisfaction in Life
In this time of financial strife and steadily rising jobless rates I'm sure many of you are scratching your head and thinking, "increase what happiness?" There are people losing their jobs on a daily basis, worse yet, there are people losing their homes with their marriages dissolving as a result. Happiness? Satisfaction?
John Lennon said, “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” Let that sink in a minute. This is a very difficult time for very many people, and yet, through it all there is happiness to be found. We can find happiness in what we have, not what we want. It has been said, "the key to happiness in the heart", your happiness, YOUR heart!
There are more "be happy quotes" on the Internet than you can imagine. Being happy and increasing that happiness is what keeps that smile on your face.
Laura T. Coffey tells us one way to be happy is to remain optimistic. I know that isn't always easy but thinking the glass is half full instead of half empty sure does make the glass look better. Try to look at the big picture and the good things that could happen. They might not be happening right not, and may not have for a long time but things can always get better no matter how bad they are. Trying to tell ourselves that can lighten the burdens just a bit.
Wikipedia defines happiness; "Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy." That's a huge range, but happiness and satisfaction with your life often go hand in hand.
We often think of happy people as those who have everything they want, but that isn't always true. There are happy people who have little or no possessions in the world, yet they are happy. They are happy because to them happiness is a state of mind and they are 'satisfied' with their lot in life. They have learned to live with things the way they are and not always desire other things, or want more of what they have. What makes these 'poor' people happy? The fact that they are alive and well, the fact that they have a loving family, the fact that they see the sun come up every morning. These are things that can make anyone happy.
There is an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy about happiness which includes the theory that happiness may just be the opposite of depression. Possibly then happiness is just the state people are in when they are not sad. Yet as the title here indicates we often relate happiness to satisfaction moving it a bit beyond being just the opposite of depression.
Everyone wants to be happy. We like to watch happy movies with happy endings, we like to read happy books, and we like to be around happy people. All of these things, by the way, will help increase your happiness because happiness, like the flu, is contagious! Remember, if you've never been sad you'll never know happiness.
What are you grateful for? Stop and think a minute. Do the things you are grateful for make you happy? If you are happy with them are you satisfied as well? Sometimes we are happy and satisfied with our lives and don't even realize it. Oh sure, we'd like to have a Lincoln Continental in the driveway instead of a Chrysler Van, but, does it really matter? Doesn't the Chrysler get you where you want to go? Doesn't the Chrysler look nice when its clean? Doesn't it get good mileage? So, are you happy with it? Are you satisfied with it? In most cases the answer would be yes.
HappinessClick thumbnail to view full-size
Synonyms for Satisfaction
- peace of mind
Speaking of satisfaction, what is satisfaction? Generally satisfaction and contentment are the same thing. Being content with your 'lot in life' isn't a difficult thing to achieve. I think I need to clarify here. Though I am speaking generally I do not think happiness and contentment can be applied or achieved by people living in oppression, war zones, or truly experiencing starvation though some of these people have. This is directed at your average person living under average/normal circumstances.
Before we go any further, of course I have to mention the Rolling Stones' song, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction". Those of you from the sixties know this song is about sexuality and commercialism but regardless of what it's intentions were, many of us think of it immediately when we hear the word "satisfaction". Okay, back to what I was talking about. If we look at synonyms for "satisfaction" one of them is "happiness", so it is easy to say happiness and satisfaction go together.
Big corporations are always trying to satisfy their customers because they know if their customers are satisfied they are happy and will come back to buy more. Satisfaction! Being satisfied with your job helps you do a better job and makes those around you happier, because you are satisfied.
Happiness and satisfaction. So how do you increase them?
Contentment/SatisfactionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Increase Happiness and Satisfaction in Your Life
Of course, start with yourself. Take stock and look at all the good things. You really are a nice person. Sure you've had some rough patches and there might be more to come, but that doesn't make you less of a person. You know you have talents! Writing, cleaning, reading, you're good at directions, you can sing better than anyone in your family, you know how to grocery shop faster than anyone, you can change a tire in the blink of an eye.... I know there's more but this is a small start.
Don't be afraid of life. Take risks, try new experiences. A little spice might be just the thing you need in your life to make you happy. Next time you see the guy in Apartment 2B, say hello, he won't bite! Take that class in electrical wiring or walk your dog down a different street. Branch out and try new things.
While you're taking stock of your life, realize the many things you have to be thankful for. Perhaps your parents are both gone like mine, but, I have such wonderful memories of such love and guidance. Think a minute, don't you have great memories? What about the people in your life? I'm fortunate to have a truly wonderful husband and we've raised four wonderful children. Okay, maybe you got divorced, but what about those wonderful kids? Really, you know there are many valuable things and people in your life, you weren't born under a rock!
Suppose you're all tense and nervous, maybe a massage will loosen you up and make you feel more content. It doesn't have to be in a posh massage parlor that will cost you a fortune. I'm sure someone can recommend a nice, cheap place to go. Treat yourself and help that contentment start to come to the surface.
Think about what makes you dissatisfied and try to change it so you can be satisfied. I know, all of this is easy to say, but it does work for most people. If you have a spouse or a close friend, enlist their help. Tell them you want to be happy and satisfied and you need them to give you a boost. Know that there are many people in worse conditions than you are, those with no homes or no families. Those who lost all their possessions in Hurricane Sandy, those who just managed to get through those horrid tornadoes...you have much to be grateful for and with a little time and effort you can increase your happiness and satisfaction. The best part is, if you do increase your happiness and satisfaction, your family will benefit too!
The very first step to increasing your happiness and satisfaction is learning to share happiness. See the happiness in your life; in your children, your grandchildren, your co-workers, and your friends. Share their happiness with them and share your happiness with them. As you learn to share happiness you will become more satisfied with your life. Wishing you joy and peace from this day forward.
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