How do we achieve and define Happiness?
Meet basic needs + positive state/attitude to life + internal valuing = Happiness.
What do we mean? Lets have a look. Happiness is a state of being, it is a choice of how to be, based on our feelings, attitude and state of mind. The things that allow people to make choices around feelings, attitudes and a state of mind are endless and vary for each individual person.
The feelings that facilitate a state of happiness are such feelings as joy, love, gratitude, bliss, excitement, ecstatic, calm, peace, contentment.
The attitude that a person would adopt would be one of positivity, optimism and compassion. A state of negativity and malevolence would not combine for a happy outcome as it would be motivated by anger, fear and other such negative emotions.
Happiness in the Buddhist teachings and in Person-Centred Counselling or Humanistic Counselling refers to happiness as an inside job, a possible long-term state derived from internal experiencing. Not from material things but from a lack of attachment to others and objects, happiness is a choice, a way of being, not directed by external forces. External forces can be removed and therefore external forces if removed would also take a person’s happiness. A person whose motivation to own their dream home who then achieves that only to have it taken off them in a divorce has had their happiness taken away.
Maslow (1943) in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” discusses the hierarchy of needs based on a system of having our basic needs met before we can move onto a state of self -actualisation (realisation of talents or potential). Such basic needs as food, shelter, safety, social needs, love, if these are met we can move on to further and higher motivated needs. We all, given the right conditions, have the ability to blossom and grow. Like a seed planted in soil with sunlight, protected and nurtured will flourish and bloom. Maslow’s theory supports this; the right conditions being our basic needs met and self-actualising being the blossom and growing. A person who doesn’t have their basic needs met is likely an unhappy person, who has disease in the body caused by lack or fear or anger or resentment and other negative states. That would suggest in order for that person to override being unhappy without their basic needs met, they need somehow to take action, that may be forgiving and coming to peace with their situation and being present in this moment only.
An example maybe Nelson Mandela coming to terms with his situation in prison and starting a forgiveness movement and overcoming his lack of safety in a violent prison. Also the Tibetan leader The Dalai Lama being exiled from his country and forced to live in another country due to his spiritual beliefs and teachings being rejected by government. He and his people have learnt to overcome these difficult circumstances and constant threats to their safety and embody compassion and peace regardless of their situation.
So in order to attain happiness one ordinarily would have their basic needs met and have a positive attitude towards their situation and life followed also by the choices they make around the state of mind and feelings selected. A state of joy, bliss contentment and an optimistic outlook are all a great recipe for happiness, with an internal valuing system that places the power of that happiness implicitly with the person and their values and beliefs instead of any external people, materials or possessions. Therefore no-one else would have the power to take that happiness away.
Where we put our focus energy flows so, make life easier for yourself – What practical steps can you take? – write it down.
Get your ducks in a row to meet your basic needs – Are your bills organised and being paid, do you have savings? healthy food choices for optimum nutrition? Are you surrounded by supportive people? are you making safe and loving choices in your sex life, work life, home life, family life and social life? Are you loved? Do you love yourself? Are you spending time doing things you love? With people you love? If not, Make a plan.
Positive state – What state of mind do you want to live in and what emotions do you choose to feel? invite them in – what do you need to bring into your life and how will you make that happen? For example my ride to my counselling practice is pretty boring and traffic laden. So I take a different route, I take a longer drive through the most exclusive address in the city – imagine palm trees, mansions, landscaped green lush gardens, alfresco living, lots of beautiful architecture to admire and open roads with a slow paced life – it sure beats the miserable route filled with traffic lights, exhaust fumes, beeping horns and obligatory stress. My choice is calm, joy and bliss. I invite it in through my senses to support my state, its my choice. Make good choices to support your positive feelings.
Internal valuing – Where are you putting your happiness? Is it determined externally by approval from others -friends, your boss or parents? Are you allowing food, money, alcohol, sex, shoes, holidays to make you happy? or is it healthily based on your own needs, values and beliefs – When we honour ourselves we act with love. Review what are your values and beliefs and which belong to others. What do I value? What is important to me in my lifestyle, relationships, career, family and finances – what changes are necessary? What no longer serves me that I can let go of?
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You may also like our Retreat at Home – Living a Passionate Life Edition which Includes workshops, yoga, nutrition and meditation to support your journey, with love from us to you. Have you read our other articles?