Do you want to be happy? Do you know how to find happiness? 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, does happiness even exist? 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. 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 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, or fun is our focus, we already have 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 always are 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 a loved one a cup of coffee compare to just grabbing a drink for yourself?
4. Seek to make others happy.
Skip your own perceived needs and make your focus the happiness of others. Try this simple exercise: When you arrive home from work, identify something someone other than you might need. A glass of cold water for a neighbor who’s doing yard work. A snack for the kids. Relief for a friend who is working on an arduous task. Make plans for the coming weekend based on what somebody else might enjoy. Serve someone coffee at the office or bring in a treat to share. 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!). Then, think deliberately about the present moment. 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?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What could you do to make someone else happy today?”