This is a question some people never ask themselves, while others struggle with it every day.
How is happiness defined?
The Encarta Dictionary gives us several definitions:
• feeling pleasure
• causing pleasure
The first two definitions are fleeting-unsustainable, but the third one points to a state of being, and that is where we need to focus the discussion. Another word for satisfied is "content".
How do we seek happiness?
Many individuals believe that happiness is an outgrowth of a relationship that they find pleasant or fulfilling. While that may sometimes fulfill a need, putting that burden on another person is unfair, selfish, and can not be achieved. Others seek happiness solely through their work, and in so doing, many times leave other areas of their lives unattended, often causing their families unhappiness. Some individuals also seek the constant element of excitation or drama in their lives. That is a hard "get" and is a source of frustration more often than not.
Why does it seem so elusive?
When happiness seems unattainable, it is because we have let others set the criteria for happiness for us. It is unfortunate that media has had a major impact on so many people's lives. The focus on what we do not own, or physically lack, has found its way into the national psyche and warped our values. Without a strong counterforce to neutralize the effect, many of us will fail to find that which is imperative to our growth: the desire to learn where true happiness lies.
Where does happiness originate?
It is important to note here that seeking happiness is a false goal. Frustration often firms such a quest. Realizing that happiness does not hide in material acquisition, how many people are interested to you, the number of friends you have, or the attention you receive is the beginning of wisdom. When you come to know where and how true happiness originates, you have turned a corner and are on your way to achieving it. You have arrived at the truth when you realize that happiness comes from within yourself.
Three elements must be present for happiness to occur
While it is true that some of us arrive in this world with a "glass half-full" attitude, and others have the "glass half-empty" outlook, both can achieve happiness. Happiness actually resides in three areas of our lives:
• sense of self-worth-means you are mostly content with yourself and have value to yourself
• value to others-your presence in their lives has value to them
• sense of believing-you have found your place in the world
Self-worth is first on the list because without it, the remaining two can not occur. We achieve self-worth when we strive to become a better person. Better at our jobs, better with our relationships and better at accepting things we can not change, having learned how to work around the unchangeable and put it behind us.
We never stop chasing, for it is racing that gives us our sense of self-worth. In the course of succeeding, we become valuable to others-our families and friends find our presence contributions to their well-being and finally, with achievement of the first two goals, we have found our place in the world and are content.