6 Things You Need to Find Happiness

Happy the Movie

I just saw the movie Happy, which covers many of the attributes that happy people have. For instance, the movie attempts to answer the question of how a rickshaw driver living in the slums of India can be just as happy as the average person. How can a person who gave away a high-roller lifestyle to volunteer to work with the destitute and the dying for the past 17 years also be so happy? Yet, how can the Japanese in Tokyo, a technological beacon, be rated as one of the unhappiest places in the world?

I have included as a quick outline the attributes that happy people have.

Lots of friends

Happy people tend to have a very good social support structure, such as family and friends. These are the people they turn to in times of need and in times of joy. Humans evolved to be social beings, having a codependence towards one another.

Intrinsic Values

The pursuit of intrinsic values is important. These are values such as compassion, cooperation, and wanting to make the world a better place, which goes hand-in-hand with having lots of friends. We tend to place our priorities on extrinsic values, such as money, power, and fame, thinking they will somehow lead to happiness, when we should really be focusing on intrinsic values. Start today by volunteering at a homeless shelter, becoming a big brother, or reading to children at your local library. The dedication to a higher purpose is important to our overall happiness level.

Practice Gratitude

Our brains are differential engines, meaning we are always comparing our previous levels of happiness with the latest levels. It is the ying-and-yang of dichotomies. How can there be pleasure without pain? How can there be enjoyment without suffering? How can there be happiness without sadness?

You may be happy with the 10-year old car you are driving today but if I suddenly gave you a $100,000 sports car, how happy would you be? You would be ecstatic, although for a very short time only. In the same vein, as the initial joy and bliss wears off, you will should be wanting a car worth $150,000. There is a limit to how much happiness can buy. According to a column in the New York Times, that number appears to be $75,000.

So, we should always practice gratitude, to be grateful for what we already have. Just has want is an ingrained habit, gratitude too can be cultivated.

Living in the Moment

Along the lines of developing intrinsic values, we should find work that places us in the zone. Time seems to go on forever whenever we are doing something that puts us in the moment. The world can be a painful and uncertain place. When we do something that is our passion, our love, and our enjoyment, we feel a certain mastery over ourselves and the environment. We put our worries behind us and concentrate on that which matters now and which brings us much gratification. The human mind lives best when it lives in the present, in the moment. At this very time, our worries and our pains seem to vanish.

Dopamine Release

Remember how the little things in life brought you such great joy as a child? When I got a toy, I had more fun playing with the box than the toy itself! Dopamine is a major reason why we feel happy. Yet once we hit our teenage years, the level of dopamine released by our brains start to decrease. The older you get, the lower your level of dopamine. We can stave off this self-perpetuating cycle by practicing activities that cause our brains to release dopamine, such as exercising and meditating.

Humans also thrive on novelty, so the more new experiences you can expose yourself to, the greater your happiness level.

Meditation

Just as greed and want are cultivated into you at an early age, especially in western culture, so too can compassion. Practice compassionate meditation. Did you know that Matthieu Ricard is considered the happiest man in the world? He credits his happiness to his life-long practice of compassionate meditation. The mind is a tool, just like another other muscle in our body. It can be honed with razor sharp focus and meditation is one way to achieve this. Many tools are out there to help you with meditation, especially if you are new to the concept.

The Pursuit of Happiness

One thing I want you to take away today is that happiness is an entity that must be pursued. You must discover for yourself your own unique set of abilities and passions that make you who you are. Once you discover what that is, then you will have a better picture of the road you take in life to achieve that. In the mean time, the attributes outlined above will help you on your own journey of self-discovery.

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Comments

  1. Talk about synchronicity! I’m on a journey to increase my happiness 🙂 When I hear about others troubles, I realise how blessed my life is, even though we strive to continually improve. It’s being happy with where you are, whilst improving at the same time!

  2. Lovely article. being happy is totally upon us is what I feel..I always try to find happiness in small things like I’m happy when my son gives me a hug, I’m happy when my hubby says – just loved your dish..Sometimes in pursuit to bigger things we tend to forget that even small things can give you immense happiness..

    • Hi Priya.

      Yes, being grateful for the little things in life is just as important. We tend to spend too much time focusing on lack rather than on what we do have.

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