“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley
Over the past few weeks, I’ve wished many of my family and friends a Happy New Year! Who wouldn’t want happiness in 2019, right? The question is, however, what does “happy” mean to you?
My daughter Erica is a student at the University of Maryland. Last semester she took a course in Positive Psychology which involved weekly exercises. She would text me questions like, “Mom, what would make you happy today or what are you most grateful for? She would ask me to meditate on a positive thought and report back on how I felt afterwards.
My husband and younger daughter also took part in these happiness exercises. While I did find them helpful, I was also reminded that the definition of happiness is not exactly universal. Sure, if you look the word happiness up in the dictionary, you’ll find things like a state of well-being and good fortune or a pleasurable experience. However, my definition of a state of well-being may not align with your own.
So, I ask again, what does being happy mean to you? Asking yourself this question forces you to take the time to focus on what’s important to you. And your answers will change depending on what’s going on in your life. As an example, my oldest hasn’t been feeling well over the past few months. She recently had several tests done and will now be visiting with a specialist.
If you ask me what happiness means to me right now as I sit here typing this blog, it’s knowing that my daughter is going to be OK. Of course, I’ve always wanted my children to be healthy and well but it is of even more importance to me now. Knowing that my children are happy and well provided for gives me immeasurable inner peace. So, again, the definition of happiness is not exactly universal. What makes me happy may not have any effect on your happiness level whatsoever and that’s perfectly alright. The key is to know what you want and what’s most important to you. What is it that will bring out positive feelings and emotions?
But as you do some soul searching in 2019, keep in mind that being happy does not mean the absence of negative emotions. We all go through periods of fear, stress or sadness, for example. And if we allow it, those negatives will eventually take over. Using myself as an example, of course, I’ve been concerned about my daughter. However, at the same time, I know I have so much to be grateful for in my life. The love that I feel for my family and friends fosters feelings of joy and gratitude. No matter what the circumstances in our lives, there is always something to be grateful for. You need only to take the time to look for it. And when you look, you’ll find it within.
Why? Here are a few tips to remember:
- Happiness is A CHOICE. Be mindful of your choices.
- Happiness is about GRATITUDE. Focus on what you do have and not what you don’t have.
- Happiness CAN’T BE BOUGHT. Material things bring us pleasure, not happiness.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.” The key to her wise response is that she describes happiness as a feeling, not a thing. A feeling that can only come from taking a deep look within.
Wishing you a very Happy 2019!