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Happiness is a state of mind. Specifically, it is a state of “well-being and contentment.”
This is the reason some people say, “Don’t pursue happiness, seek joy. Happiness is fickle and fading, joy remains forever.”
But this short-term definition of happiness is not how everyone understands the word. Some define it to mean long-term satisfaction.
The long-term feeling of life satisfaction is most experienced when we embrace the emotion of joy in the here and now.
The most important thing to realize about happiness is that it is not an outcome of current circumstances. Just the opposite, happiness is a choice. Is this easier on some days than others? Absolutely. But if you get caught in the trap of thinking your circumstances need to change before you can be happy, you’ll never, ever get there.
There are good things in your life right now: you are alive, you are fed, you are healthy, you have family and friends, and you have opportunities each day to pursue meaningful work. Maybe not all of those are true for you right now, but certainly some of them are — which means there is good in your life that you can focus on.
No matter how you choose to define happiness —short-term or long-term — comparison will rob you of it. Whether we compare our finances, our body type, our vacations, our talents, our house size or our shoe size, there are no winners in the game of comparison. But here’s the good news: Nobody is forcing you to play! You can stop any time you want. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate who you are, work hard every day to live your best life, and stop comparing yourself to others.
In the world of positive psychology, gratitude and generosity can only be understood correctly when we see them as disciplines rather than responses . A discipline is something we practice regardless of our circumstances. If you are waiting for enough money to become generous, you’ll never get there. Likewise, if you are waiting for everything to be perfect to be grateful, you’ll never experience it. Choose to be thankful today. And choose to be generous with your time and money.
Possessions are necessary for life, but our society has seemed to confuse consumerism with happiness.
Slowly but surely, we begin to believe their empty promises and waste our lives pursuing things that can never satisfy. We sacrifice time, money, energy, and focus chasing and accumulating things we do not need.
These excess possessions add stress, worry, and burden onto our lives. And so, go declutter a closet or drawer and start to challenge consumerism in your life.
Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.
We don’t get to control every aspect of our relationships (we didn’t choose our family, for example). But we can all take steps to be a good friend. And good friends tend to attract healthy community.
Our lives are filled with days, our days are filled with hours, and this present hour is filled with whatever you chose to fill it with. So pursue healthy habits that add value to your hours, days, and lifetime.
Spend time outside. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Quit smoking. Put down your cell phone. Work hard. Pray often. And get enough sleep.
The most efficient pathway to lasting happiness and fulfillment is not to look only at your own interests, but also to the interests of others. When we shift our focus off of ourselves, we live lives of greater meaning and greater contribution. When we serve others without concern over what we might receive in return, we experience the beauty of selfless love. The size of our universe (and happiness) begins to expand exponentially.
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