Happiness leads to health and greater opportunities in life, all you have to do is CHOOSE.
What Is Happiness?
If we really want to live, we'd better start at once to try;
If we don't, it doesn't matter, but we'd better start to die.
— W. H. Auden
Michael Ray in his book, The Highest Goal, asks us to consider what our highest goal is. That is, what will keep us moving forward when our lives challenge us? Consider this from Ray's introduction:
So what is this Highest Goal? … The highest goal is simply to be in this experience of connection or truth (no matter how you refer to it) all the time. If you live for the highest goal, you are living a life of the spirit—whether or not you consider yourself to be on a spiritual path. If you consciously notice the larger aspects of life, always consider whether what you are doing coincides with these aspects, never forget the times when you were enlivened by the power of the highest goal, use those memories in new situations, and act with the knowledge of the support you have and the journey you are on—you will be living for the highest goal (pp. 5-6).
To live in the highest goal is to live in the solution of personal happiness and be true to yourself. It is to become the genuine person you need to be and should be. Living in the solution of your personal happiness allows you to combine your potential in wholeness and unity. Living in the solution you will experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi terms "flow" — the experience of engagement with everyday life. It is optimal living; being involved fully with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad.
Happiness can generally be defined as positive thoughts or feelings about one's life. Emotions associated with happiness can range from elation to a general feeling of satisfaction and contentment with one's life which includes feeling calm, contented, satisfied, fulfilled, inspired, positive and free.
Your quality of life can be broken into two parts — outer quality of life and inner quality of life:
Outer Quality of Life: the type of environment we live in and whether that environment allows opportunities for us to grow and be happy. Outer Quality is the way we sense the purpose of life and whether we feel we have a higher purpose in life according to our values.
Inner Quality of Life: our sense of life ability which includes health, capabilities, adaptive ability (optimism, coping, resilience, etc.) and appreciation of life which refers to our satisfaction with life. Satisfaction is typically a subjective experience.
Why should we be happy?
Studies have shown that happy people tend to be healthier and have greater opportunities in life, especially when people are part of a happy community. This is because happy communities tend to be healthier and wealthier and generally do better.
This is my point: If you live in the problem — whatever is it is — your resources go to the problem and not to the solution. If you are living in the solution, you are looking beyond survival. If you choose to live in the solution, you avoid "option paralysis" because you have defined what your end result is.
The lack of wealth or health need not prevent one from finding happiness in whatever circumstances we are living. In fact, many studies by Csikszentmihalyi suggest that children from the most affluent families find it more difficult to be in contact with life. Compared with less well-to-do teenagers, they tend to be more bored, less involved, less enthusiastic, less excited and in many cases less successful and able to cope.
Csikszentmihalyi researched happiness and reported:
"My studies have suggested that happiness depends on whether a person is able to derive flow from whatever he or she does… A brief selection from one of the more than 10,000 interviews collected from around the world might provide a sense of what the flow experience is like. Asked how it felt when writing music was going well, a composer responded, 'You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don't exist. I have experienced this time and time again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching in a state of awe and wonderment. And the music just flows out by itself.'" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, p. 44)
So, what is the bottom line message here?
People are happy not because of what they do, but because of how they do it.
Can we learn to be happy? Fortunately, we can. If we address how we feel, think and act by bringing consistency to these three areas. Dr. Timothy Sharp proposes a model of happiness to help you develop and enhance your experience. The steps in the CHOOSE model will help you implement your choice to be happy:
C = Clarity of goals, direction and life purpose. Happy people set clear goals and determine clear and specific plans to ensure their goals become reality. So clarify what you want because no one else will do it for you.
H = Healthy living including exercise, diet, and sleep. Health forms a critical part of the foundation for happiness. It is hard to be happy if you are sick and tired all the time. So whatever you can to be healthy and you will also boost your chances of being happy.
O = Optimism, positive but realistic. There is no doubt that happy people think about themselves, others and the world differently. They search for more positives and positive outcomes. You can learn to do this as well, so start practicing now.
O = Others, the key relationships in your life. Research strongly indicates that happy people have both more and better quality relationships. So make sure you devote time to developing and nurturing your key relationships.
S = Strengths that are your core qualities, characteristics, and attributes. Happy people spend less time trying to fix their weaknesses and instead make the most of their strengths. Find out what your good at and do it as much as possible.
E = Enjoy the present. Live in and appreciate the moment. The past is ancient history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift — that is why it is called “the present.” Try to enjoy the present more and enjoy life.
To learn more about the CHOOSE model and The Happiness Institute visit: http://www.thehappinessinstitute.com/
Excerpted from Chapter 15 of my book Life’s Path: make a choice that brings you happiness. Available at http://www.booklocker.com/