How do you define happiness? We hear the word a lot today; in fact, some might say too much. There’s no doubt that we’re taken with the term, because I think it’s safe to say that most people want to be happy! But what does “being happy” mean? For some, happiness might be watching a spectacular sunset while out in nature. For others, happiness might mean winning the lottery. And still for others, happiness could mean being surrounded by their family and loved ones. Obviously, there are many ways to define happiness. That’s because “being happy” is subjective. “Being happy” is a state of mind. But why is it so important to us?
That’s the big question and there’s no shortage of research on it. One study that caught my eye involves a field called “Positive Psychology” that’s being taught at top universities in the U.S., including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. Positive Psychology is about identifying the factors that make individuals and communities happy and fulfilled, and then encouraging them to engage in those positive activities and behaviours.
The research might surprise you, because the prerequisites for happiness don’t necessarily include wealth, a high IQ, youth or marriage. The scenarios that seem to invoke the highest levels of happiness involve the following:
1. Moments of sensory pleasure, such as a beautiful sunset, holding a loved one, playing with an animal….
2. Activities involving others, like partners, family, friends, co-workers, teammates….
3. Using our personal abilities and strengths in meaningful ways, such as hobbies, work, helping others….
Are you surprised by the results? It’s our connection to others, and the sharing and giving of ourselves and our talents that seem to count most to us. When I think of my moments of happiness, a couple of memories come to mind immediately. One is a memory of an exquisite summer evening spent with a dear friend some years ago. We were on a dock on a lake, eating pastries and talking for what seemed like hours. It was peaceful and engaging. Another memory of happiness involves an astrological seminar I participated in. I was part of a panel of astrologers and we spoke about our work and then answered questions from the audience. It was a sort of meeting of the minds, and it felt so good to share our research and knowledge with the group.
I’m sure you have your own memories of “being happy” in life and I hope you’ll let yourself connect to them and maybe even share them with someone close to you. My intention this week is to remind you that we can take steps to bring happiness into our lives by staying involved, reaching out to others and enjoying the world around us. I hope you’ll find ways to do that.
“As a leader, your word is only as good as your last promise kept or broken.”
Author and Speaker, BJ Gallagher
Your action for today is to pay attention to the promises you make and do your best to keep them.
Have an extraordinary day!