What is Happiness?
We all want to be happy, or happier, at least, but what is happiness exactly? It’s a feeling we all believe we can recognize, but one person’s happiness might be another’s blah. If happiness is one of your goals, then it is important to define what it means to you. You might want to grab pen and paper while you read this article – we have work for you to do.
Most people agree that happiness is an emotion – one that is recognizable by pleasant feelings of contentment and/or euphoria. We experience moments of peak happiness, and we can also experience a gentler, pervasive happiness over a longer period. You can find brief happiness in external events and experiences, but true happiness comes from within. Happiness is an inside job.
What does being happy mean for you? Write down your personal definition of happiness. How do you feel when you are happy?
You Can’t Be Happy all the Time
It’s true, there’s no such thing as constant happiness. To experience good times, we need some contrast for comparison. We have to know how unhappiness feels, so we know when we are happy. It’s important that we give ourselves time to be down and not to blame ourselves for being unhappy. Think of it as the simple ebb and flow of emotion. When you are less than happy, just acknowledge that you are not feeling at your best. That state of acceptance, that it’s okay to feel the way you do, is an important step toward feeling better.
Feeling low is temporary. Keep telling yourself that it will pass, and you’ll feel better soon. If you are worried about a situation or problem, know that it isn’t affected by the way you feel, so you may as well feel happy as miserable. In fact, feeling better could well have a positive impact on the problem. Solutions and ideas flow when you are happy because your brain is tuned in to possibilities. You are inclined to be enthusiastic about an idea when you are happy; thus, you are more likely to take action too.
Abraham, of the channeled Abraham-Hicks material, says, “A happy life is made up of a string of happy moments.” This tells us that a constant state of joy is pretty much unobtainable by most people. What we are usually seeking is a general contentment, interspersed with inevitable periods of contrast, and also many moments, hours, or days of pure happiness. The important thing is to acknowledge when we are happy and strive to feel that way as often as possible.
How to Find Happiness, Step-by-Step
Choose to be happy – simply choose happiness at the moment. For example, a shaft of light through the clouds reminds you that the sun is always shining. The purr of your cat expressing its contentment with life. The mug of coffee on your desk. The unlimited amount of oxygen available to you. Make the decision at this moment to be happy about something. Just for a few seconds. Then do it again.
Give up watching the news for 21 days. It’s not very long. You will find that your happiness level bobs upward when you are not subjecting yourself to miserable news that you can’t do anything about. You might even prefer life without the news channels.
Appreciation is an important step to feeling good. Appreciation is on the same emotional level as love. You can’t be in a state of appreciation and be feeling bad at the same time. Look for one thing to appreciate – try it now. Look around, pick one object nearby and think about how it improves your life, or how beautiful it is, or the kindness of the person who gave it to you.
Self-appreciation is even more important. You are a lovely person, you know that. You are kind, strong, and a good friend. You always do your best. You have made mistakes, sure, but everyone does. You put them right, that’s the main thing. Give yourself a mental pat on the back, some credit and a lot of appreciation. Make it a daily, even hourly practice. Write lists of your positive aspects – as you dig deeper, you’ll find more and more to love about yourself. You can even write positive aspects of the person you’d like to be – as long as you write them as if they are already true. Which they are (there’s nothing wrong with a little time travel).
Raising Your Happiness Set Point
Your happiness set point is where your emotions reside most of the time. You might be an eternal optimist, a positive person, someone who radiates love and happiness. Your happiness set point is high. On the other hand, you might be habitually in the dumps and always expecting the worst. Most of us are somewhere in between, idling along in neutral, with the occasional blip either way.
You can raise your happiness set point in many ways. Make a habit of practicing the step-by-step suggestions above for a start. Over a short period, you will discover that there are so many things to feel happy about that your feelings are naturally raised. Of course, you will notice those contrasting moments of unhappiness more strongly because they become uncomfortable to someone used to feeling good. See that as a positive indication that you are becoming happier overall, and follow your steps to feeling better.
Expect a good outcome. Whenever life throws up obstacles and problems, cultivate a ‘knowing’ that all is well. That the problem will resolve – how many difficulties have you faced in life that didn’t get resolved? Not many. Understand that when you are looking at a problem in hindsight, it is no longer a problem. So pretend that the problem is already behind you and you are seeing it with clarity from your future perspective. It all works out beautifully.
Journal your way to happiness. List out ten emotional states, from despair to joy. Determine where you are on the scale at this moment. How could you move up one level? Appreciation? Try it. Write about something or someone you feel appreciation and gratitude for. It’s inevitable that you will move to an improved state. How might you get to the next point on the scale? You could write about how great tomorrow is going to be. List all the things that will go right tomorrow and how good you will feel at the end of the day. You get the idea. Make your Happy Journal a daily habit.
“But I’m suffering, I’m in pain. How can I be happy?” There are moments when the pain recedes, when the suffering reduces. Take the opportunity to raise your mood when those times occur. Right now in this moment, can you be happy?
Happiness Improves Your Connection to Spirit
When you are in a happy state, you feel connected, energized, loving, appreciative, open to ideas and possibilities and that the potential for good things is unlimited. You feel closer to Source/God/All-that-is. You feel a sense of personal power and freedom.
This level of emotion opens doorways to your intuition. You just know the next step. You know that life is unfolding for you just as it was meant to. You rely on your gut to make the right choices. You feel in tune with the universe. Your blood is zinging through your veins; you feel high, invigorated and ready for anything. Whatever you embark on now is destined for success.
If you can regularly achieve this level of happiness, then it’s a good time to strengthen your connection to spirit. Try this exercise: take a few minutes (five or ten should be enough) to lie down and feel the life force flowing through you. Let your mind go free. Explore the possibilities that come to you. Give your thoughts free rein. This is the opposite to trying to empty your mind. Instead, visualize your thought stream as a bird, catching the breeze, floating on the air currents and seeing the daily stresses of life as unimportant details. Come down gently. You will feel so good.
Do this short exercise whenever you can: before you sleep and when you wake are excellent times. You will notice that you have a greater capacity to feel compassion and empathy without lowering your emotional state. You may find that your intuition shifts subtly into psychic awareness as you experience a strong sense of ‘knowing’.
Expand on this exercise by enlisting the help of a willing volunteer. Deliberately move yourself to a happy, peaceful state of being. Hold the other person’s hand, close your eyes and carry out the instructions as described above – without the lying down part. Feel your energy mix with theirs, allow random thoughts and feelings to move through you. Once you have ‘landed’, try to describe what you felt in words. Ask them if they felt anything. You could be surprised. Feeling happy opens so many doors that you might have thought were closed to you.