how to find happiness

How to Find Happiness

Do you want to be happy? Do you know how to find happiness? It sounds like a straightforward question, and Make Me Happy certainly seems to be the focus of the majority of advertising; but is it even a reasonable or measurable idea? Will that sporty little car you’ve been ogling really make you happy? Would that bigger house in the other neighborhood do the trick? Is that extra drink, those additional rounds of golf, a substantial raise, or a night out with the guys just what you need in order to achieve this elusive goal? What is the secret to happiness?

And while we’re having this conversation, is happiness even a thing? It turns out that this is the real question, and understanding the answer is more important than the house, the BMW, the golf, and the money combined. If we seek happiness over meaning, then we will find neither. [Tweet This] If, however, we chose meaning over happiness, then we shall have both.

What is the secret to happiness?  Do we know how to find happiness? Here are 5 ideas that will most definitely help you to find out.

1. Do not try to be happy. 

This is probably the most important and effective key to happiness. Seriously, friends, when our own personal satisfaction/happiness/contentment/fun is our focus, then we have already strayed far from the path where happiness comes as a most welcome byproduct. Guys who leave their wives because I’m just not happy never will be. Guys who put themselves first never are. But the man who puts his own happiness aside in order to serve others experiences blessing after blessing.

2. Practice gratitude.

Gratitude is a choice we can make each and every morning and then multiple times during the day. It turns out that people who are grateful for what they have are 100% more content than people who are always looking for the next best thing. I am so grateful for my wife. Thank you for the gift of children. Food; what a blessing! This job is tough, but I’m grateful for it. Another new day, another opportunity for gratitude.

3. Identify areas of your life that enhance meaning.

It’s a great idea to think actively about where we find meaning because meaning is the key to contentment. What areas of life match, for example, the teachings of our faith? How does helping with coaching, Boy Scouts, or community cleanup compare with watching the game on TV? When was the last time you walked away from a video game so you could read a good book? How does serving your wife a cup of coffee compare to just grabbing a drink for ourselves?

4. Seek to make others happy.

Try this simple exercise: When you arrive home from work, identify something someone other than you might need. A glass of cold water for your wife? A snack for the kids? Relief from an arduous task? Make plans for the coming weekend based on what your wife might enjoy. Serve someone coffee at the office or bring in a treat to share. In other words, skip your own perceived needs, and make your focus the happiness of others.

5. Plan deliberate circuit breakers and learn to reflect.

Set an hourly alarm on your clock then respond to the cue to stop whatever busyness you’re caught up in. Step away from the task at hand (unless you happen to be driving at 70-mph!), then think, deliberately, about the moment you occupy. Take a series of deep breaths—in, and then out—and use that moment to thank God for life, for the opportunity you have to live the very next moment. Do this often, not thinking about something you wish you were doing that might make you happy but deliberately occupying the moment at hand.

Sound Off

Where do you find happiness?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Alternate_View

    These are good ideas. My only suggestion is that there should be a couple of pointers in there for men who give of themselves, who are true ‘servants’ and are unhappy because they are taken advantage of. Yes, they could turn to scripture, and pray. This is all good advice. When I see others post their dissatisfaction on this site, they are often accused of being self-centered, or selfish. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking one’s spouse to contribute to the marital happiness. My two cents anyway.

    • Derek Maul

      You are so right about the importance of open dialogue with our spouse; it’s essential. Marriage works best as a partnership – mutually submissive. We should always be willing to – in love – share what is on our hearts and minds. But here’s an interesting thought on being a “true servant” – When we are genuinely giving of ourselves, then we can’t be “taken advantage of.” There is no quid pro quo in servanthood. Maybe that’s the difference between “turning to” scripture, and “living out of” scripture…?

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Huddle up with the family and ask, “What have you done to make someone else happy today?”

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