Remember in the 70s (for those of you who are old enough) all of the "Happiness Is…" t-shirts, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs?
Well I finally figured out what Happiness really is thanks to combining Viktor Frankl's work in logotherapy and some biblical and secular teachings.
Are you ready?
Wait for it, wait for it… Ok, Here it is!
Happiness is the byproduct of living a meaningful life
choosing to think on all things
that are good and right.
Can it really be that simple???? YES!!
So how does this manifest?
We must discover our meaning in life. Meaning is highly personal and changes over time. Periodically we need to assess it, so that our meaning can guide our choices.
For instance if helping others is what gives you meaning, then where in your life are you helping others? If work does not allow that to be brought forward and you haven't been doing volunteer work or something to manifest your meaning, you may find that life has become stagnant, unfulfilling, and your happiness may be on the low side of the scale.
Right now you are probably asking yourself, "But how do I discover my meaning?"
That is a great question!
People find their meaning in many ways, but one way is to assess your values and discover what is important to you. Values are powerful tools that evoke meaning!
There are online values assessments, books that can guide you, or a couple of counseling sessions can help you uncover your values and discover your meaning. (Check out my next blog for a breakdown on how to discover your values.)
The second part of The Happiness Equation is choosing to focus on the good in life, the positive, the beauty that surrounds us, the honorable. The secret is to focus on what's going right rather than placing our focus on all of the negatives, the what ifs, the longing for a change in circumstances.
We really do get what we focus on the most.
The reason I said "secret" is because it is THE secret.
The law of attraction truly is a law! If I choose to focus on all the negatives in my life, then that is all I will see.
AND I will actually attract more negative things into my life because I am resonating negativity and like attracts like.
Here's an example. Remember when you first fell in love, had a baby, or got that exciting new job? You were so focused on the positives and the opportunities that you didn't notice the little (or the BIG) irritating problems - like the fact that your mate is messy, the baby takes a whole lot of work, or there are still office politics even at that great, new job.
There will always be problems and negatives even under the best of circumstances!
One of the seven principles that makes relationships great is a positive sentiment override. When a couple is stuck in negative sentiment override it means that every little thing that happens is seen with a negative slant. But when a couple is operating under positive assumptions, then the little things aren't so irritating and are not taken personally.
The secret, the key, the imperative is to focus on the positives while working with the negatives. The most wealthy people in the world know this and practice it. When negatives occur they see them and wonder what is going to happen next to make everything work out.
In closing I offer a sports analogy. I love golf because it mirrors life so much. Golf is just between me and the ball - how I can make the ball fly high and land softly, punch it out low and run along the ground, chip it just over the edge of the green and let it trickle to the hole, but there are obstacles in my way EVERYWHERE!
I cannot always avoid the sand traps, the rough, out of bounds, or the water (that dang water!).
So why do I keep playing golf with all of those annoying obstacles?
Because the good shots thrill me and keep me coming back.
I focus on making it better the next time, rather than focusing on all of the poorly executed shots and sand traps that lie in wait for me!
In life the only person I have control of or can change is me! I am the golf ball.
(Be the ball Danny!)
So if I choose to focus on doing things better the next time, then I improve my life/my game!
If I choose to focus on all of the hazards, then I make no improvements, see only the negatives, and experience little to no happiness.
What gives meaning to your life?
And what do you choose to put your focus on - the positives or the negatives?
I would love to hear your answers to these questions. Leave me a comment.