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Understanding, Accepting, and Embracing Yourself - the Key to Happiness?

Updated on May 31, 2014
Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who created "Maslow's hierarchy of needs"
Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who created "Maslow's hierarchy of needs" | Source

"Self-actualizing people enjoy life more - not that they don't have pain, sorrow and troubles, just that they get more out of life. They appreciate it more; they have more interests; they are more aware of beauty in the world. They have less fear and anxiety and more confidence and relaxation."

Abraham H Maslow

The Pursuit of Happiness

We are all on the pursuit of happiness – at least, I know I have been on the pursuit my whole life up until now, and always will be. But how do we get to that true feeling of happiness and inner peace? This is a question humans seek to answer on a daily basis, and answering the question and applying the solution to one’s life can truly help shape and determine one’s destiny.

Pursue happiness and live
Pursue happiness and live
Yummy, lobster makes me happy!
Yummy, lobster makes me happy!

Temporary Happiness

I have been seeking happiness for as long as I can remember. It is why I used to play tricks on my younger sister back in the day (I still do to this day), why I eat lobster (love the stuff), why I drink wine (ahhhh), why I spend a day at the beach in the middle of summer, soaking up the sun and turning brown and tan (just did that today!), making loads of money and so on and so forth. But are all of these things that we do, activities we partake in, addictions or bad habits we seek out and feed, bad (but yummy!) food we eat, etc. just temporary moments of happiness, or even, for some, Band-Aids with which we use to cover our cuts until they heal, pretending that these things make us truly happy deep down inside?

I don’t know about you, but eating lobster and sipping on a glass of cabernet would make me truly happy to the core!

Don't be a frowner - get happy!
Don't be a frowner - get happy!

True Happiness to the Core

But seriously, what really makes us truly happy deep down inside? Maybe we have to define the kind of happiness I am referring to first - Oxford Dictionary defines happiness as “the state of being happy” – ok, thanks Oxford Dictionary, that really clears things up for us. Actually, maybe before putting down the good ol’ Oxford Dictionary of the English language, I should look up the definition of happy – Oxford Dictionary lists the following for the word:

- Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

- Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with

- Satisfied with the quality or standard of

- Willing to do something

Now we are on a roll. Do I want to be in states of feeling contentment, having a sense of confidence or satisfaction with, satisfied with the quality or standard of, and willing to do something, straight through to my core every day of my life? Um, yes, sign me up! So how do we achieve that?

I believe, and many sources out there agree, that to know thyself – understanding, accepting, and embracing yourself – is key to achieving happiness. In a way, it can be referred to as “self-actualization”, a "term originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential" (Wikipedia).

Take responsibility of your happiness
Take responsibility of your happiness
The key to happiness is at your fingertips.
The key to happiness is at your fingertips.

Why is to know thyself the key to achieving happiness?

To completely understand yourself is one thing; couple that with accepting and embracing yourself, and you’ve got the perfect base ingredients to achieve a life full of happiness. You become at peace with yourself and the world around you, and realize what you can offer the world, and the world becomes a better and brighter place. You are able to develop a purpose in life when you truly understand the good qualities you can bring to the world, and having a sense of purpose in life is truly amazing. I would know, as I was seeking that out for the longest time, and felt completely lost without it. It is a terrible state to be in, but luckily, I have been on the path to self actualization and am seeing the clouds lift in a way I have never experienced before.

Embarking on the path to self-discovery

So I tried to think, if I was truly a deeply, depressed person, who had no energy to even get out of bed in the morning, and felt like I would rather die than live – how would I even begin to ponder the idea of starting a quest of understanding, accepting and embracing myself? I mean, that is a lot to take on and sounds like a lot of work.

I would start with asking myself, ‘what ONE good quality do I possess that I could bring to the world?’ – because when you’re down and out like that, you don’t think you have anything to offer the world. But if you start with naming just one thing, because everyone has to have at least one good quality about themselves, you can perhaps start to mentally understand what qualities you possess, accept those great qualities, and embrace them to a point where you can start to pick up the pieces and see that life is a beautiful thing – and embark on the lifelong journey of self-discovery and true happiness.

5 stars for Dr. Robert Holden's radical 10-day plan above

I am listening to the 311 song “Beyond the Grey Sky” right now – if you have never heard it before, I would encourage you to check it out because it’s great. I used to listen to it when I was sad, and wish I could see the “clear blue sky beyond the grey sky” as the band sings about – I see that blue sky today, and never thought I would at points in my life. And you can, too, if you take the time to discover your good qualities and begin to seek out true happiness.

Poll it out!

Does this issue hit home with you?

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Mandy,

      Fantastic work! I loved this hub and yes, it spoke to me in every aspect of life! Thank you for sharing. Voted up and away.

      I am so glad that I found you on HP. Keep up the great work.

    • Mandy Lee 26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amanda Oneal 

      4 years ago from St. Petersburg, Florida

      Thanks a lot for the comments, teaches. Really appreciate your feedback, thanks for reading!

      Yes, I hope my message, and my messages to come, will help others who may be in similar situations, or have been in the past. That is why I write, and always will!

      Best wishes as well!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I am so glad to hear how you have overcome the lows in life and face it with postive energy today. You have a good message here for all to hear. Blessings!

    • Mandy Lee 26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amanda Oneal 

      4 years ago from St. Petersburg, Florida

      Epbooks, thanks for your generous comments, glad you liked it! You are right, some days, it is hard to maintain happiness when met with certain challenges or difficulties life tends to toss your way, but I think an overall level of contentment can be reached, which helps you deal with said challenges and find ways to cope. Thanks for reading and reflecting!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Very thought-inspiring hub and I think that ultimately, we are responsible for making our own happiness. Of course, some days, it might be more difficult than others! Very well written!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      "So then, the relationship of self to other is the complete realization that loving yourself is impossible without loving everything defined as other than yourself." - Alan Watts

    • Mandy Lee 26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Amanda Oneal 

      4 years ago from St. Petersburg, Florida

      Thank you for the comment; you are correct, laughter is the expression of happiness and keeps the cycle going. Nice interpretation of happiness!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have a basic philosophy in life - laughter is the best medicine, passion feeds the soul, the mind heals the body - this to me is happiness and you are correct in that it starts within - cheers


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