Happiness: Part 2
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
In order to stimulate some thought, I can tell you what happiness is to others. Use some of these ideas in creating your own definition.
Happiness is being true to ourselves. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” said Mahatma Gandhi almost a century ago. Internal conflict and lack of integrity lead to guilt and ultimately misery.
Happiness is keeping busy. It is often the result of being too busy to be miserable. Finding something to do, especially something you enjoy doing, whether it be a career, volunteer work or hobby, will keep the boredom away.
Happiness is accepting the inevitable. J.C.F. von Schiller said, “Happy is he who learns to bear what he cannot change!” I agree with Schiller, but I would like to change “cannot” to “cannot and will not.” There are many things that we can change if we devote enough resources to it. However, we may want something to change, but not badly enough to devote our time and energy to changing it. It is in these cases we must accept that what is, is.
Happiness is having goals and a purpose. Helen Keller believed, “True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Having goals and a purpose in life keep boredom away as well. Happiness is a side effect of the constant feeling of accomplishment and knowing you are headed in the right direction in life.
It is the little things in life that bring happiness. Those who base their happiness on major accomplishments are setting themselves up for a life void of happiness. “Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom,” wrote Benjamin Franklin. Life is full of these small pleasures: enjoying a sunset, walking on the beach, watching kids play, reading a good book, watching a good movie... the list goes on.
A Hindu proverb states that true happiness is in making others happy. This statement leads us back to one of the principles of success by Zig Ziglar, who says, “You can get anything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” By bringing another person happiness, you will find happiness as well.
Happiness is found in one’s work. “The road to happiness lies in two simple principles,” said John D. Rockefeller III, “find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it put your whole soul into it—every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have.” One’s work usually occupies more than half of one’s waking life. Choosing work that does not bring happiness will lead to a life that is mostly disappointing.
Happiness is found in one’s family life. Both loving and being loved are sources of happiness unmatched by any other. Although we cannot control the feelings others have for us, it has been said that the best way to be loved is by loving.
Happiness and health are closely related. It is not necessary for one to be in perfect health to be happy. However, it is a well-known fact that happiness does affect health. In the Orient, it was believed that the basis of all disease was unhappiness. While we are pretty sure ALL disease is not due to unhappiness, there is some truth to this. Happiness does have the power to restore health, and laughter just may be some good medicine.
Happiness is financial success and prosperity. On the tail end of happiness comes the material side of life. Acquiring is not enough to bring happiness; it is enjoying what you have acquired that can bring happiness. Writer Logan Pearsall Smith wrote, “There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
Realize that true happiness is not the absence of feelings and emotions in the darker side of life. It has been said that there is no pleasure without pain, which may be true, but happiness and pleasure are not the same thing. I believe that one can enjoy happiness without experiencing misery. Happiness is a way of life, not a temporary feeling of enjoyment or pleasure, and temporary human emotions of anger, discouragement and pain do not have to affect one’s overall happiness.
Sharing happiness is considered to be our “moral obligation” by many. George Bernard Shaw wrote, “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.” Those who have found it are encouraged to share it with those who are desperately in need of it.
It has been said that happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation. Happiness is meant to enjoy now, not someday in the future when the economy improves, you meet the right person, you own a home, the kids grow up, you get a promotion, your business takes off, or you retire. These are the “good old days” so allow yourself to be happy today, right now.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)