Yesterday was a good day. My family and I got together at the house for a cookout. Though the forecast earlier in the week predicted rain, it was a beautiful, temperate day. The grills were smoking. The music boomed from the speakers. The children were playing and sometimes joined the adults in a dance to the electric slide. Smiles and laughter abounded. The food was delicious, and we all just about ate ourselves into food comas. Happiness. I can honestly say that yesterday was a picture of happiness.
Coming up with a formal definition of happiness can be tricky. After all, we assume we just know it when we feel it. Both thrilling to experience yet challenging to obtain, happiness is a state of wellbeing we all seem to be seeking with many of us taking risks that either prove to be fruitful or disastrous. For centuries, scholars from various fields like philosophy, theology, psychology, and economics have endeavored to define happiness. Even today, get a group of 10 people, and their definitions of what it means to be happy will differ. Of course, there are some similarities but for the most part, each individual will define happiness from their construct of the world. What is happiness to you? Some things that may come to mind include feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. Sometimes when we speak of happiness, we might be talking about how we feel in the present moment; other times we may be referring to a more general sense of how we feel about life overall.
How can you tell if a person is happy? Closer to home is the question, "How do you know when you are happy?" Some key signs to look for include: feeling more positive than negative, feeling satisfied with life overall, enjoying positive relationships with others, experiencing gratitude, feeling a sense of purpose and meaning, and a keen desire to share happiness and joy with others.
Happiness, however, is a state of wellbeing. Just as water can present in different states (gas, liquid, solid) happiness too is a state. Even the happiest of people experience the human emotions of anger, frustration, boredom, loneliness, and even sadness from time to time. I wish I could say that happiness just is, but that is not the case. Like all things worth having, we must put in the work to both create and maintain happiness.
At the beginning of the year our article, "7 Day Happiness List Challenge," a challenge was issued to encourage my readers to practice intentional happiness. It's quite common for us to overlook the positive aspects of our lives and fixate only on the areas that we wish to improve. The 7 Day Happiness List Challenge was designed to help us cultivate happiness by identifying those little life moments that bring us joy, developing a positive rebuttal to negative thoughts by identifying positive inspirational thoughts, and pursuing goals that focus on personal growth and sense of community. How did you do with this challenge? If you skipped some steps or are new here so completely missed the first challenge, here is a chance for redemption. So grab your pen and paper; your personal happiness depends on it.
For those of you who are not new here, you know that I am big on gratitude (it is sprinkled throughout several articles here at EnvisionCo Blog). Generally, I encourage readers, coachees, and clients to identify what they are grateful for and allow them to flow wherever their mind flows to. However, just like with last time, this challenge is to get outside of the box and will list specific challenges by day. You ready?
List the ways that money cannot buy you happiness
List the compliments you want to give to others
List the people who make you feel happy
List what makes you happy right now in this present moment
List the things you like to do that don't involve technology
List the foods that taste great and make you feel good about yourself when you eat them
List one achievement, big or small, that you have accomplished this week
Happiness has been shown to predict positive outcomes in several aspects of our lives such as our mental wellness, our physical health, and our longevity. Yet so often we have difficulty defining what it is. There is no magic formula for happiness. However, it is my hope that lists such as this one and the one in our 7 Day Happiness List Challenge will point you in the right direction.
As always, I appreciate your readership and would love to hear from you in the comments below. What things made your 7-day happiness list? Let us help keep you accountable by challenging you to return each day and respond in the comment section. Happiness requires work and persistence. Please remember that wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!
"Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars...and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful...Look at the flowers-for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho
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