How to be Happy
What does it mean to be happy?!??
This is one of those really big philosophical questions like:
“What does it mean to live a good life?”
“Why is there something rather than nothing?”
Well, according to Aristotle:
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
If this is true then understanding what happiness is might be the most significant thing that could ever be known.
As such, it’s really important to understand exactly what someone means when they use the word “happy”.
This requires a brief history lesson.
You see, long ago the Welsh word for “happy” actually meant “wise”, but that sort of definition was rather exceptional, both then and now.
At first, most ancient Europeans had words for “happy” that just meant “lucky”. So, the term was traditionally synonymous with good fortune, not hard work, or anything of the sort.
To our distant ancestors, happiness was something that either came your way or didn’t. It’s only relatively recently that the sensibility has changed.
In the late 14th century, a “happy” person was someone who was defined as being prosperous, or in advantageous circumstances. This had nothing to do with pursuing one’s dreams. Not in the slightest.
However, by the 1520s, happiness had come to mean “greatly pleased and content”. Following this, in the 1630s, people would say that someone is “happy as a clam”.
This was originally “happy as a clam in the mud at high tide”, which is when it can’t be dug up and eaten.
Happiness in this sense is about things like safety and satisfaction.
Presumably, this is essentially what the founding fathers meant by “the pursuit of happiness”. Of course, happiness isn’t actually something you can go after directly, instead it’s a byproduct of several different things.
Moreover, it’s as much about the process as it is the (by)product.
This all traces back to the ancient Greeks who first developed the idea of two distinctly different kinds of happiness.
Hedonia was the central concept in Epicurean thought, whereas eudaimonia was the central concept in Aristotelian thought.
Simply put, the former is concerned with pleasure and the latter with purpose.
This is where the notion of happiness as wisdom comes in.
The way I see it, happiness is just as much about letting go of life as it is about grabbing onto it.
From one perspective, gratitude is the mother of all virtues. From the other, prudence is.
Ultimately, gratitude is about way more than just saying what you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving.
We should all be grateful to have what we do when we do.
So, say some prayers of gratitude to your Higher Power.
At the start of every new day, you have the opportunity, nay the responsibility to enter a positive mental state that can sustain you throughout the entire day.
You just have to wake up on the right side of the bed, as it were.
This is how to be happy, in the truest sense of the word.
It’s about living the life that you were always meant to live, in the best way possible.
This is why you need to be prudent so you can stay on track because deviating from your path will only make you unhappy.
Prudence is also about moderation, which is central to Scandinavian philosophy. For instance, “lagom” is a huge part of the culture in Sweden. This means doing things in “just the right amount”.
This is important because countries like Norway have the happiest people overall, so they must be doing something right.
With that in mind, you have to stay properly focused on your goals and gains in order to enter a state of lasting gratefulness, which is necessarily guided by prudence.
When you think about it, happiness is simply the inverse of sadness.
The former is a result of dwelling on the good things in your life, while the latter is the result of dwelling on the bad things in your life.
This means being happy is something that really needs to be practiced in order for you to get good at it.
Being happy is about focusing on your capabilities, not your circumstances.
Just remember that confidence doesn’t lead to high performance, instead high performance leads to confidence. So, you have to hit the ground running.
Happiness can only be achieved by embracing the present moment.
That’s why you have to find meaning in the here-and-now.
Another way to think of this is that “ikigai” in the East is very similar to the “eudaimonia” of the West. This is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.”
Ikigai is why you get out of bed in the morning.
Think of it like this. Purpose-driven happiness results from things that make your life worthwhile. In contrast to this, pleasure-driven happiness is about the fulfillment of your desire rather than your destiny.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, to be happy you have to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do more and be more.
Simply put, happiness can be seen as the convergence of four primary elements. These are your passion, your vocation, your mission, and your profession.
In other words, it’s about what you really love, what you’re good at doing, what the world needs from you, and what you can get paid for.
So, in order to be happy, you might not be able to get your dream job. That is unless your passion, vocation, and profession all line up just right.
The truth is that, no matter what, you have to be concerned with what it is that you can give to the world, not just what the world can give to you.
Such is your mission!!!
Learn to experience leisure in all that you do.
Happiness comes from serving yourself, as well as those around you.
This means you really have to dedicate yourself to good causes if you want to be happy.
Ultimately, happiness results from striving for the best of all possible worlds.
So, in the end, if you truly want to be happy, then just make the world a better place.