I'm currently reading the book The Geography of Bliss, where reporter Eric Weiner travels to the world's most happy countries, searching for the source of bliss. (What a cool job!) I'm only two and a half chapters into the book, but I can already see where this is leading: There is no formula to happiness.
In the U.S., we put such an emphasis on being "happy." But in this seemingly hopeless pursuit, we often find ourselves falling short of our goal. Why do you think this is? Do you think happiness is impossible to achieve? Or maybe it's just overrated?
I'm beginning to thing happiness is arbitrary. We can decide to be happy or not be happy, but from there, we still have to live life. What is the heart of the matter? That I'm still trying to figure out. Maybe goodness or sincerity. Or faithfulness. Maybe happiness is part of the equation, but not the solution we need to find.
Unlike Weiner, I'm no expert on the subject of happiness, but I've learned a thing or two about it in my failed attempts to achieve it. Here you go:
- Happiness involves people. There's a reason we live in community with one another instead of in isolation. In a life apart from the people we love and trust--or are merely getting to know--we are unable to receive or spread joy.
- Happiness involves nature. Have you ever felt the weight lifted off your shoulders as you turn off the tv/computer/cell phone/iPad and take a step into the natural world? Stomp through leaves in a forest or let the waves of the ocean tickle your toes. You'll see what I mean.
- Happiness involves food. OK, nothing quite makes the perfect day as a sushi dinner followed by Jeni's ice cream--but that's not what I mean. Happiness comes when our basic needs are met ... not indulged ... met.
- Happiness involves God. If you think you are on top of the world, you're only setting yourself up to fall. (It's the law of gravity, friends.) Knowing that there's something bigger than yourself in control should not only bring relief. It should bring happiness.
- Happiness starts on the inside. You can't put on a smile and fake happiness. You'll never fall for your own charade.