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4 secrets to finding happiness

Updated: Sep 25, 2017

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama

Determining what these actions should be is each individual’s personal adventure, but research can provide some guidance. Studies show that the happiest people are those who seek meaning as opposed to immediate gratification or pleasure. To find fulfillment, each of us must uncover our true hopes, ambitions, dreams and ideas, and then make our actions match these ideals. As Albert Camus wrote, “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”

1. Generosity.

Being generous means taking an action toward another person that is attuned and sensitive to that person’s needs and wants. It involves being giving of ourselves in ways that extend beyond ourselves. As the World Happiness Report concluded, “well-being depends heavily on pro-social behavior,” which involves “individuals making decisions for the common good that may conflict with short-run egoistic incentives.” Generosity doesn’t just benefit the recipient of our offerings. It’s incredibly valuable to our own mental and physical health. It naturally reduces stress and combats depression, while enhancing our sense of purpose. It can even lengthen our lifespan. (See “The Benefits of Generosity.”)

Resilience describes an ability to persevere when things become difficult. It involves meeting life’s challenges rather than shying away or feeling defeated. A resilient person recognizes their personal power, while living in and accepting reality as it is. A resilient person sees their potential to change their situation, to evolve, adapt and accomplish their goals.

3. Being present.

Being present involves being aware and putting our focus where we want it. This places us in a receptive rather than a reactive mode. Mindfulness can be extremely useful in this process, as it helps us to develop our ability to focus attention and cultivate a sense of presence. When we remain in the present moment, fully experiencing our lives, we are able to concentrate on what needs tending to and take the necessary steps to reaching our long-term goals. It can be useful to find the benefits of mindfulness meditation include reduced stress and exhaustion and increased psychological well-being, self-esteem, and quality of life.

4. Goodness.

Have you ever noticed that we are all better off when we believe in the basic goodness of our fellow human beings and, for that matter, ourselves. If we all adopted this principle, we’d feel less aggression and experience less violence. Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience—something that we all go through rather than something that happens to ‘me’ alone.”

In his book, The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships, Robert Firestone addresses the benefits of seeing our common humanity and outlines the dangers of focusing on our differences and needing to see “our group” as superior.

I have found that as I have implemented these steps, my overall happiness and well-being have improved.

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