How many times have we said to ourselves and others, “I just want to be happy” in life. To most, happiness can range from contentment to pure elation and joy. Sure, there is truth in Joseph Cambell’s simple advise, “follow your bliss”, but how many of us really know what that is? Do we ever just stop and ask ourselves what exactly we want to be, do, or have in this lifetime?
There is currently a plethora of books and motivational speakers discussing the science of happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize many of Positive Psychology’s findings; “humans seem happiest when they have Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.), Engagement or (aka Flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity), Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness), Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and finally Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals)”.
When I look at Seligman’s PERMA, I think the pleasure principle is inherent in most of us. We all intuitively know what brings us that instant gratification in various capacities. I think the other principles, however, take some serious thought. It’s easy to think that we’d be happy the minute we won the lottery or the instant we met our ‘soul mate’. But have we sat down and pondered how much money we really need to thrive in this world? How would you recognize your soul mate if you haven’t really thought about your values and what you want out of a life partner? The truth is, many of us can’t pursue happiness unless we know what gives our life meaning, what we want to achieve, and what healthy relationships look and feel like. We chase happiness in hopes of catching up to something that ends up being elusive, at best, unless we know the unique experiences for which we are searching.
I recently read Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles”. One of his assignments is to write down 30 things you want to do, be, and have. It is an exercise on becoming absolutely clear in what you visualize for your life. I felt silly when I first sat down to write down 90 items, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Because there were no limits, it was quite empowering and gave me clarity on what was most important to me in life. That’s what happens when you peel back the layers, stop judging yourself, and listen to your authentic voice. You start living your truth.
Only then can you follow your bliss and be on your way to experiencing true happiness.
***Stay tuned for more on the science of happiness Wednesday****
Deepali’s piece of wellness: Exercise your mind and get excited about writing down 30 things that you want to be, do, and have. You will have a much easier time hearing the sound of joy when it comes knocking on your door!
I’m really impressed by all of your articles and they are all really helpful. It struck me that I did a version of the list 30 items, except it was to take 200 general items and rank the most important five to you through a series of questions. I was thinking it’s been ten years since I did that and it’s probably good to do the 30 ( or more) list every couple of years because we just grow so much that things change for us. It’s good to know though that probably the core things don’t change. In any case thank you Dip for the tips and the reminders.
Dharti, It’s so good to hear from you and glad that the articles have been useful and thought-provoking. I like the idea of ranking the 5 most important items. I agree that rechecking and sometimes re-doing our lists every few years is helpful in making sure we’re still on track with our vision and goals. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your readership!