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What is Happiness?

What is Happiness?

Many people have been raised in a world where society tends to teach us that our success in life depends upon what what we “do” instead of who we are. Whether we realize it or not, the world teaches us what true happiness is really about. It’s time to be acutely aware of the signs.

Happiness is such a complex word. Depending on where we are in life, happiness can mean so many things!

As a teenager, it is likely that happiness is more defined by how many friends we have and how we fit in to the world around us.

As we get older, happiness starts being defined by where we live, what we drive, what we “do”, and how many perfect children we have.

The older we get the higher the stakes are, and by midlife people are in crisis because they are not in a place they feel they should be by the age they have now reached.

Sadly, people can go through their whole life thinking that these are things that bring us happiness – if only we could attain them.

Happiness does not have to be so complex though! Many people are just simply not aware of the fact that what we once thought would bring us true and lasting happiness, we may have already attained or may no longer be important enough to attain. The fact that we are not sensing the true happiness we thought we would have at that point is a big part of the reason that people do not think they have accomplished anything.

Without the happiness in place, people set the bar higher and higher. I remember being a teenager thinking that if I could just have my very own apartment and a good job to support me, I would be happy! When I got that apartment and job, I did not relish in my success. I was thrilled to be where I was, for that moment, but the thrill was very short lived. In time, the apartment was not good enough and I did not think I was driving the right car. And even moreso, I needed a better job.

Where Does it End?

I have since attained better apartments, better cars, and better jobs. I am now in my second house. Part of this is the natural progression of building a career but where does it end? History would teach me that I should now be striving for an even bigger and better house, bigger and better car and bigger and better job until….? After all, I will still be in the workforce for 25-30 more years! This house, car and job can not be all there is to life, can it?

Society is our biggest enemy. It tells us that by a certain age we should have certain things in place in our lives. But the truth of the matter is, a high powered senior level executive at one of the nations top companies; a person who can have anything and everything he or she might want to buy may also be very unhappy.

As we get older, it becomes more and more apparent that if we are not doing something we enjoy doing, there is no job, house or car that will make us happy or give us the true inner peace that we all desire. I would wager a high bet that a woman who loves to cook and owns a small bakery is far happier making a modest living surrounded by her family and friends than the high powered executive is with all his toys and houses.

Family and Friends First?

It is a given that family and friends are so important to all of us. But in search of attaining our “status” in life, we do not give near enough time to the people who are close to us, especially the kids. Oftentimes the stress of the job or other work related obligations takes us away from the one sure thing that can make us happy – spending time and making a difference in other people’s lives. The people in our lives should always come first!

Why do we sacrifice this? This search for status also leaves out one very important aspect of life – is what you are doing truly making you happy? Not happy because the money is good or happy because it looks good to the world but happy because it feels right deep inside your heart?

Some would argue that the right thing to do when you reach a goal is to set a new and higher one. In many places in life that is a good and appropriate thing to do. However, if you are finding that every time you reach a goal you have to set a new one because the original one did not cut it, maybe it is time you start questioning whether or not you are doing what you are truly meant to be doing in this lifetime.

It is a hard pill to swallow but we should not care what society tells us we should be doing by a certain age. I hear these kind of statements all the time “I am 30, I thought I would have a house by now” or “I am 40, I thought I would be a senior manager by now”. We strive for these things because we think that is what success looks like.

In reality though, once you attain it, if it is not what your heart desires, it only looks good to everyone else and makes you incredibly unhappy. Do we live our lives for ourselves or do we live them for others? Does happiness mean siting at home thinking, “Look at me, I bet everyone thinks I am really successful!” The truth is, if you are not doing something that is fulfilling and meaningful to you then you are not successful no matter how it looks to everyone else.

If you are happy doing something you love doing and as a result you have the time and energy to spend with your family and friends, it does not matter one bit what the rest of the world thinks.

It’s not an easy task to put aside all our preconceived notions and old tapes that replay in our heads.  However, if you look inside your heart and spend some time really analyzing how happy you truly are without regards to anyone or anything else, you just might realize the necessary steps you need to take in your life.

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