Such a word. Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone should be happy. Everyone can be happy. Some say they are, were, will be, hope to be. Some blame others for bringing it and then taking it away. But is it really that elusive? Don’t you just follow certain rules and its automatic? Rules for happiness? Does it require other people—children—money—career–status? Does it require actual tough mental-work to be happy? Can the brain command what the mind pretends? Is happiness joy? Amusement? Euphoria? Satisfaction? Triumph? Gratification?Happiness is not a constitutional right, just pursuing happiness. Where do you pursue it? Bars? Churches? Careers? Families? Online?
Abraham Maslow depicted the levels of human needs with his “hierarchy” pyramid. Beyond the highest level of self-actualization, Maslow envisioned moments of peak experiences of love, understanding or rapture…all resulting in happiness which makes a person feel more alive, self-sufficient and yet a part of the world.
Happiness is definitely a fuzzy word. Maybe each of us interprets our own feelings and determines if that’s happiness for us. Some folks believe true happiness can only come from dying and going to heaven. Heaven’s an even fuzzier word. I don’t know anyone who went there and reported back about it…yet. I just want to talk about what we know. Are you happy? Do you stay happy all the time?
According to Psychologist Martin Seligman, humans seem happiest (Notice how he makes happy have degrees) when they have the following five things. The acronym PERMA can be used to remember them.
1) Pleasure…derived from warm baths, tasty foods, etc (I like the et cetera)
2) Engagement…to be involved in a challenging activity, career, etc.
3) Relationships…social ties are one of the most reliable indicators of happiness
4) Meaning…a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger than yourself
5) Accomplishments…having realized personal goals
I think I can buy into what this shrink is telling us. I’m the happiest guy I know and after studying each of his “PERMA” criteria I know they are important. I just don’t think they guarantee to bring about happiness.
Not only Psychologists, but Biologists, Clergy, Therapists and Philosophers have all weighed in on the correct paths or paths to happiness.
From my perspective a person has a better chance of being and staying happy not by HAVING things but by GIVING UP things.
Think about that concept. It’s a heady topic and too long for this post.
Wednesday I would like to get into “happiness” and how giving up things brings us to peak happiness.