Four Keys to Happiness

It is undeniable. Some people aren’t happy. In fact, I have heard that 6 out of 7 Dwarfs are not Happy. Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself. 

All joking aside, are you happy? Do you feel content, satisfied, joyful and serene? Look, I get it. There are times we aren’t happy. Happiness is a complex and multifaceted concept that encompasses many psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social factors. It is a complex gradient that varies over time. That intricacy means it can be as hard to predict as weather in the Midwest and often, even more difficult to change. But don’t lose hope, it can be changed!

I’m not an expert on this subject, but I am a perpetual practitioner of happiness. I can’t help it. There is so much good to experience. Life is an incredible gift. It is packed with so many things to savor and enjoy. Every season of life opens a new chapter of surprises. These are meant to be enjoyed, not just survived. In my experience and studies, I have run across several keys to happiness. Here are four that I’m thinking about this week:

  • Hope – Something amazing is coming! I’m convinced that practicing optimism, focusing on positive aspects of our current and coming situations will help breathe life into those future realities. There is something magical and even transforming about faith. It changes us and begins to radiate out from us to others. It can even change the world. Be hopeful. Be optimistic.
  • Gratitude – There are few things in life that will provide an immediate return on investment. Thankfulness is one of them. With all your heart, express sincere gratitude to someone else, and watch what happens. You will feel it. Your brain will release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, propelling you towards feelings of happiness and well-being. Wired into us is the need to be thankful. We are optimized for gratitude, yet we often fail to express it. Please, if you are reading this, stop right now and find someone you can appreciate. Express your gratitude. Notice how that changes things. And if you did that, thank you. And I mean that, with all my heart.
  • Engagement – Setting goals and pursuing activities that align with your values, interests, and talents will unlock overall well-being and happiness. You have a purpose. Your life will make an impact. Every human life is immensely valuable and precious. You are holding yours in your hands. What will you do with it? One of life’s greatest joys is being who you were made to be. You are unique and you are needed. You were made to be the part you play in this grand composition of the universe. Play your role and engage in the activities made for you, the hard work and fun work, with all your heart and mind. Are you engaged? If not, let’s talk!
  • Focus – Practice mindfulness. Be present and absorbed in the current moment. Each day is full of everlasting moments. Like Easter eggs, they are hidden all around us. We can walk right by them and miss some of life’s greatest joys. Pause, stoop down and pick up each moment. Focus on it, examine it, and savor it. Isn’t it wonderful? Let the detail and intricacy wash over you. Meditate on this moment and practice all the above. Be optimistic, thankful, and engaged. Don’t let this moment pass you by.

Happiness is a gradual, ongoing process. Setbacks will come. Don’t give up. Plant the seeds of hope, gratitude, engagement, and focus. The harvest of happiness will come soon enough.