Most of us are content with our lives or often we feel we are “too busy” to really think about our own contentment or happiness. That’s for tomorrow or if I get a raise, promotion, the guy, the girl, the right house, paycheck, kids and so on.
We all have examples of people who are less economically fortunate, physical ailments (maybe even major), who have very significant roadblocks in their lives and who are clearly happy people. We admire them and frankly are dumbfounded by them. The fact is that these people understand either consciously or intuitively that happiness is fully under each person’s control and within everyone’s reach no matter each person’s circumstances.
The 3 Keys of Happiness are –
Many people that are happy may not have all 3 Keys. And that’s ok. As long as there is true contentment/happiness and not some “hole” in their lives.
Let’s talk about each of the 3 keys.
The first key is direction. We often talk about direction when we discuss goals and goal achievement. But the fact is we don’t need to achieve that goal to gain that happiness, being on the path, having that direction, knowing where we are going will give us the excitement, pleasure and happiness we desire. It’s because we can see the progress or improvement in our lives. Our lives aren’t static (or in a rut) it’s moving in a direction that we desire and control.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
A bunch of years ago, I was in a major rut. I was exceedingly unhappy in my job and even worse, I felt trapped. I was making good money and my perception was that I wouldn’t be able to get the same salary anywhere else. My financially situation was that I was pretty much spending it as it came in. Trapped.
So I decided to start saving some money. The idea was to slowly build up some change in the bank, so that I would have the power to walk into my bosses office and quit (I had quite a melodramatic scenario in my mind!) if I chose to without fear of the economic consequences.
Since I WAS spending everything that I was making, I started out small 50 bucks a month. It would build as I moved forward.
About 6 months later, with a whopping 300 dollars in savings, I decided work wasn’t so bad, things were looking up and I realized my attitude was just better. I’m sure everybody else saw it before I did, and relieved to see it!
Come on! With 300 bucks in the bank! It took me a while, but I realized that I had created a direction in my life and no longer felt trapped, even though it would take years to create the nest egg that I needed to make it happen.
We see this all the time. People in poor circumstances going back to school, seriously handicapped people using their therapy all creating a direction in their lives.
The second key is society. Not society as we know it, but each of our own society. Whether it’s family, friends, extended family, church/school groups or other associations. Whatever works for each of us. It may fluctuate, loose someone that was part of your society and what happens, we are sad and unhappy. We see couples who are perfectly happy with just the two of them and nobody else. We see the mother or father who are happiest when their lives are surrounded by their children. Our society could be quite large or very small. It answers a need each of us has to be loved, liked, appreciated, joked with, taken seriously, respected, teased….belong. The famous line in a movie with Tom Cruise looking at the woman he realizes makes him quite happy is “You complete me.” And when we have a society that will “complete us”, we are more likely to have happiness in abundance!
The third key is purpose. There are a lot of books out there that make it clear purpose is payback time. That purpose is doing good works for the betterment of society (the big kahuna society, not as I defined it earlier). While it’s a lovely thought, I do believe its poppycock.
Purpose IS what gets us going, what makes us feel good to do. Purpose could be your family. However, maybe not. This is where parents can go into the whole guilt thing. The love their kids and do all the right things, but they aren’t completely content with that. It could be that they just need to spend time with adults (society) or it could be that to meet their purpose they need to be more involved whether its volunteer work, belonging to something like a Rotary Club that does service in the community.
Purpose doesn’t need to be huge gestures. It’s whatever makes you feel you are making a valid contribution to your world. It could be serving in a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving Day; it could be mentoring someone at work or helping neighbors with their needs.
Each of these three keys needs to be formed by you. Not other people, not you trying to impress or satisfy other people. Those routes are not likely to make you happy. But by you choosing your direction in life, gathering a society that you can enjoy and grow with and fulfilling a purpose as YOU define it, you produce the keys to a happy and contented life.
There is the old joke about money may not buy happiness, but I’d like to give it a try! Yet it is true. Most of us have cool things that we all want. When we get them, we are happy for the moment or so, but pretty soon there is the next thing or toy or object. It’s like a drug always needing a new “fix”.
As mentioned, examples of happy people abound. And they’re not happy because of their “things” (if they have them) they are happy because they have direction, society and purpose in their lives. And the cool thing is, is that it doesn’t cost a dime!
So look at the 3 keys to happiness.
What direction would you like your life to be headed in?
Who do you enjoy being with, what individual, group “completes” you?
What could you be doing right now that would make you feel good, a contributor, something more?
If you can work towards those answers, you won’t have to be looking for happiness. It will show up before you even know it!.
By Terry Bass
Terry Bass of CHADONS Resources is a business coach supporting businesses that wish to reach a higher level of success.
Terry coaches, provides thought provoking speaking engagements and facilitates learning processes that focuses on helping people succeed.