“How are you?”
This is a question most of us are asked, and respond to, every day. I will admit that there have been times that I have caught myself answering quickly, and in a cliché manner, without giving legitimate thought to how I am really feeling. Too often we neglect to take time to sit down and ask ourselves how we are doing -mentally, physically, and emotionally- as well as to ask ourselves if we are happy. This post discusses how we define happiness, and how we believe fulfillment can be achieved. There is also a quiz at the end that allows you to perform an emotional checkup. We hope that while reading, you are reflecting on your happiness and satisfaction with the current life you are leading.
What does it mean to be happy, or to achieve happiness? By pure definition, the word “happy” means “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.” According to Buddhism, ultimate happiness is achieved in overcoming cravings in all forms. Catholicism teaches that the end of human existence consists of “blessed happiness” as you reach salvation in its entirety, and can therefore only be achieved in your next life. In 350 BCE, Aristotle said that happiness is an activity involving moral and intellectual excellence or virtue. He stated that some external goods are necessary in order to exercise happiness, but that it cannot solely be found in pleasure, wealth, or honor. Overall, it is clear that humans have been trying to define happiness for as long as we have had the ability to do so, but that it has had different meanings for each of us. We believe that there is no standard determinant or lifestyle that results in “happiness”, because what makes each individual happy is unique. This is determined by how we were raised, the people with whom we have associated, our interests and passions, amongst many other factors. Ultimately, however, we believe what determines whether or not we are happy is if we are staying true to ourselves. We believe that all of the tools we need to be happy are innate. All we need to be able to do is discover when we feel true satisfaction, that is not biased by any concern we may have of how others will perceive us, or by societal expectations. We all have natural strengths and gifts, combined with individual personalities and thought processes, that mold the kinds of activities and people we attract and on which/whom we enjoy focusing our time. Listen to your inner voice, and recognize when you feel most at peace. Take note of when what you are thinking you want to be doing most matches with what you are feeling you want to be doing in your heart. It is at this intersection that we believe true happiness and fulfillment lie. Positive psychology is the study of happiness, and examines how ordinary people can become more happy and fulfilled. This differentiates from traditional psychology, which typically focuses on the dysfunction of people. We hope for you to approach your happiness from a positive psychology standpoint. As opposed to recognizing what makes you happy, and amending that to better conform to how happiness has been defined in our society to prevent yourself from being an outlier, refocus your energy. Reflect and act in a way that leads to a sense of fulfillment, and allows you to use your unique passions and strengths to benefit mankind as a whole. Break the mold that you, society, and your peers have created, and inspire others to do the same. With enough positive energy and the realization that there is nothing “wrong” with you or anyone else who is staying true to themselves, while also not hurting others, a shift in mindset is bound to occur. After World War II, social psychologists demonstrated in laboratories how malleable people are. Experiments proved that normal people could become insensitive to suffering when obeying orders, or sadistic when given the role of a prison guard. When you are not staying true to yourself and your genuine interests, you are sacrificing a large part of your identity and releasing some control over your own life. As a result, you can lose sight of your values, your ability to be compassionate, your drive to stay out of depression, and many other characteristics that make us human and our unique selves. Do not let others dictate your purpose, or truth, and you will ensure that you stay true to yourself. In staying true to yourself, you will also stay true to your happiness. Here is a quick quiz, provided on Oprah’s website, that will help you quantify your happiness. We suggest that you keep a copy of the questions, as they are excellent prompts for reflection and meditation that can be used at a later time. We hope you enjoy!
Thank you all, and have a happy and healthy week! Make time to do something you really love, and to reflect on your happiness!
Love & Light, HR