Happiness

Written by Dr. John Townsend

January 4, 2020

We all want to be happy, nothing wrong with that. When we are happy, we experience cheerfulness, positivity and an upbeat mood. Happiness is one of the most pleasant emotions a person can have. We feel energy and  we feel hope. So how can we create this feeling more for ourselves?

The tricky part is that unfortunately, happiness doesn’t work well as a goal.  People whose focus and goal in life is to be happy, often find that over time, they can’t stay happy. Think about these two categories of people who want to feel good all the time as their main focus: 2 years olds and addicts. Their internal systems are constantly craving the happiness experience, and their lives aren’t great models for how to live in the adult world.

The reality is that happiness is a much better byproduct than it is a goal. It is the result of other activities that provide a better life. It’s a little like weight loss. There is a ton of research that says we should weigh ourselves less frequently, and just concentrate on eating right and working out, and the weight will drop. The weight loss is the outcome of the right life activities.  So here are some of the best “happiness-producing” skills:

  • Great supportive relationships: Engaging with people who are “for” you, can be vulnerable with you, and will tell you the truth.
  • Freedom: Instead of allowing others to control you, making the right choices because they are the right choices.
  • Living in reality: Avoiding perfectionistic expectations of yourself, others or the world.
  • Something to do: Competent work produces a positive sensation.
  • Giving with no tangible reward: It’s well known that altruism and service cause our body to release oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
  • Resilience: Being able to bounce back after a failure, and self-regulate.
  • A purpose larger than oneself: We are happier when we engage in something meaningful that helps us transcend past “is that all there is?” 

The ironic reality is that the happiest people in the world rarely, if ever, wonder if they are happy, or how to be more happy. They are otherwise involved in spending their energy engaged in the above skills.  

So c’mon, get happy… by living the right life.

Best,

John

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