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Help Me Define Happiness

12 Aug

Help Me Define Happiness

Posted By: 
Tamra Excell

When talking with parents about their hopes and dreams for their children, it usually boils down to two things: happiness, and self-sufficiency. However, what do these look like?

I have some ideas, but I want to hear yours too. Let’s start with happiness this week, and then next week we can discuss self-sufficiency (or should that be personal agency?). I invite you to expand my understanding by giving me examples, or even alternatives to consider.

So what is happiness? And is it important? Some people live in a more constant state of happiness than others. What are they doing that others are not?

Happiness is something we continuously pursue. Just as we have moments of hunger and fullness, so it is with happiness. Happiness can be reached by eliminating pain (hunger, sorrow, etc.), and/or through sources of joy (food, entertainment, connections with others).

Some argue that letting go of unnecessary attachments, such as agonizing over things out of our control, is also key to happiness. I don’t know about you, but I have a real hard time with the “letting go” part even when I know it’s a good idea. Any tips for this would be welcome.

Living a meaningful life – one with a sense of purpose – has been correlated with happiness. The pitfall here is that people have different core values, which can also change throughout their lives, so defining “purpose” is a very individual thing. The same can be said for sources of joy; for example, social events are energizing for some and draining for others.

Right up there with purpose, gratitude has a powerful impact on happiness. Even in challenging situations, I look for the silver lining and what there is to be grateful for. Have you ever done this, or heard of practices such as thinking of good things each night before bed? Is it something we should consciously be teaching kids?

With all of the above in mind, to be happy, we must be aware of our own needs, strengths, and passions before we can become more mindful of our pursuit of happiness. Can we do this without judgment? What if my core values or strengths are not as newsworthy as yours, but I am still designing a life that fits me; is this good enough?

As always, I ponder these types of ideas with kids in mind. How do we mentor them in creating the best life possible for them? Should happiness be part of that conversation?

I look forward to your thoughts! Just hit reply and say hello.

In joy and gratitude,