Where can you find happiness?
The search for a happy life has perhaps been an essential part of being human throughout the history of mankind. However, it feels like our present day is right now especially full of that feeling that comes with searching for the great happiness and there are plenty of offers available for finding it! So why is it so difficult to reach that state of happiness? What path will lead there? What is happiness in the first place and what does it mean to you?
Happiness is a side product
This is the conclusion drawn by the developer of logotherapy, Dr Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), who was a psychiatrist, and held a doctorate in medicine, neurology and philosophy. He came to the conclusion that happiness is a side product.
According to Frankl, happiness is the consequence,
when we fulfill our important values.
In other words it is a side product.
This thought may feel a little grand, but in practice it means that happiness, the meaningfulness of life, is born as a result of choosing and carrying out those actions, which we feel are important and valuable. Happiness, then, is not the aim in itself, but a consequence.
This seems simple, doesn’t it? But the real challenge for many of us might be in defining what our important values are. For some lucky ones, their guiding and important values are clear from early on in life. I am happy for you, if you are one of them!
A shortcut or the full circle?
I belong to the large group of people, who have not found such shortcut to happiness. Instead I have walked the path following a method of exclusion. Looking at the whole only briefly and harshly, it might look like a series of embarrassing misses with many changes in direction and wrong choices in all areas of life, including studies, work and love. Or are there really any wrong choices after all?
Could it be that the diversions and corners that feel the most useless and painful actually take you further on your path? Perhaps taking the route that leads you to dig your way deeper with sweat on your forehead is an integral part of finding the things that ultimately lead to finding the keys to happiness in your hand: the you who is wiser precisely because of all the potholes and turns on the road. What does your story look like? How would you like to see your own road?
Open the door to happiness
According to logophilosophy, we humans are co-creators of our own lives. This means we can affect our lives in many ways through our actions and attitudes. Regardless of our starting point, we can increase our own contentment in life by learning to experience for example gratefulness.
Being grateful has a tendency to grow into positivity
and increase our appreciation and compassion towards ourselves and others.
This can be a difficult box to tick, if your attitude towards life is very cynical, unforgiving or dissatisfied. In that case it might feel like the general balance in life is tipped towards deficit and you might find yourself waking up to each morning already well on the negative side. How can you change this for the positive and start opening up the door for happiness?
A journey into positivity
The path into positivity may be full of potholes, require perseverance and take time and strength. It requires the desire to open up and take the journey that leads to change. Little by little those rewarding moments and feelings of relief will come. As an expert on the experience of being on a long journey like this, it is my pleasure to share with you how liberating it has been to grow gradually and gain the perspective and understanding that allow you to forgive yourself and others (even life?) for the things that have been and to accept even great sorrows.
I still have to face the mirror all the time and check my own thoughts and attitudes constantly! It is, however, reassuring to know, that it’s not necessary or possibly even advisable to embark on this journey all alone. You will meet others on the same path, who share your thoughts and feelings and they may become good friends and provide great strength. I have found great sparring partners through peer support, trusted friends, books, studies, nature, hobbies and through professional counseling.
The things that we keep nourishing are the ones that will grow
We have established that the keys to happiness are healthy positivity and gratefulness. These are attitudes that we can grow into by learning to apply them.
The book Hardwiring Happiness (The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, Harmony Books 2013) written by neuropsychologist Rick Hanson opens up the process of learning positivity and receiving positive things in an easy to approach practical way.
The feeling of happiness increases as we learn to know ourselves,
define our values so they are clear to us and act according to those values.
It is also good to embrace and accept that part of us that makes mistakes and learns (you’re not going to find a halo over your head!). Especially those on this path with us, who feel inadequate and have the tendency to try to do too much, should really learn self-compassion.
Basic happiness is steady
The solid base for happiness is also supported by understanding that life changes and seeing the different phases of your own life as meaningful steps and part of your unique life story.
Through these elements I have been able to catch what I call basic happiness, which holds even on those difficult days. It does not easily waver as a result of being shaken by factors that come from the outside.
Basic happiness is steady and endures through everyday life. In the end that is what makes up most of our lives. Basic happiness lives in the small moments, choices, encounters and acts that make up our daily life.