Most people can't be truly and completely happy. It's a statistical fact.
Research shows that only a small percentage of people consider themselves "very happy". Fortunately, for most people, there is a solution - a way to get started on a path to true, complete, and life-long happiness.
You see, the first reason we can't be completely happy is that most of us don't really know what would make us truly happy in life.
We think we know... more money, a better relationship, a more fulfilling job, better looks, having children, less stress, fewer “problems”, or whatever.
The truth is, though, most of us don't truly know because we never take the time to really figure it out - partly because it isn't always that easy to determine exactly what we need in our life to be totally happy.
I call it our personal Definition of Happiness – and it is different for everyone. The things that make me happy (or could make me happier) are different than the things that make you happy (or could make you happier).
Your Definition of Happiness
If you looked up your own personal Definition of Happiness in the dictionary, what would it say? In other words, what is it - exactly and specifically - that would make you totally happy in life?
If you could name 5 or 6 things that, if you had them in your life right now, would make you totally and truly happy for the rest of your life - what would they be?
Most people quickly say things like:
- More money
- A better relationship
- A better job or career
- More free time
- Less stress
- More freedom
- A better sex life
- Finding the right life-long partner
...and so on. You get the picture.
But have you ever really sat down and thought about it? Most people haven't. And that's one of the main reasons why most people CAN'T be totally happy.
It’s like wanting to live in a warm, sunny climate and thinking that Seattle is where you want to be – because it’s such a nice place. Yes, it is a great place, but it probably wouldn’t really be the right place for you. You would not be totally happy living there (again, even though it’s a great place) since Seattle is a somewhat of a cooler, rainier city and what you really want is to live in a warm, sunny place.
So, are you certain you know exactly what would make you totally happy in life? Again, most people don't – mainly because they haven’t taken the time and effort to figure it out. And, yes, it can require time and effort (and a lot of thought).
Most people just go through life striving to "be happy" (thinking they know what it would take to get there) but not really knowing.
It’s no wonder many people never get there (and can’t be truly happy). It's part of the reason why so many "famous", "wealthy", "successful", "healthy" people are miserable. They think the fame, wealth, success, and good health will make them happy (like thinking Seattle is the right place to live) but when they get those things they find out it’s not what they really need to be happy. All those things are nice, and may add to a sense of contentment or joy, but it's not enough.
The bottom line here is this:
It is important to know that the first essential step in the journey to the happiest possible life is to know the destination. That destination is described by your personal Definition of Happiness. And again, it is different for everyone.
Once you define what happiness means for you personally, you will be in a much better position to identify the steps required to get there by creating your personal Happiness Plan — which is your “map” for the journey to complete and total happiness and fulfillment.
If you need help figuring out what would truly make you happy in life, click here.
What Is YOUR Personal Definition of Happiness?
Your Definition of Happiness is not a personal mission statement or declaration of your purpose in life. It is much more basic and self-focused. It simply means answering the question: what would make you a totally happy and fulfilled person forever?
Stated another way, if your life were to include everything written in your personal Definition of Happiness you would be totally happy for life, regardless of the circumstances.
As Linda Ellis put it so well in her hugely popular poem called The Dash, it's really all about how you want to live your life (you can get your own copy of The Dash by clicking here - or you can just "experience" the poem by clicking here).
And there is no right or wrong definition. This is about you, your values, your priorities, your passions, and your identity.
The main requirement is that it states your true feelings and includes everything required for you to be as happy as possible.
What It Takes...
It is not easy for most people to define happiness for themselves. Some people can’t figure it out at all. It takes considerable thought, honesty, reflection, and introspection. And, it really needs to follow a certain "formula" for it to be valid - and form the foundation for your happiness.
For starters, it is best for your Definition of Happiness to consist of the right number of "criteria" required for your happiness. In other words, your definition cannot contain too many or too few of the criteria which are needed for your happiness.
For example, if you included only one thing (one criterion) in your definition that is required for your total happiness and it doesn’t work out as planned, it will be unlikely that you’ll be able to be truly happy in your life. Not only that, it is quite unlikely that anyone would have just one criterion for total happiness.
So, if your Definition of Happiness were simply to become wealthy, for example, you would likely never be truly happy if that didn’t happen for some reason. Additionally, though, even if you did get wealthy, you would probably still not be really happy if you had terrible relationships, significant regrets, or no self-respect. Wealth, in this example, could be part of your Definition of Happiness, but it should not be your entire definition. And, surely, wealth alone is very rarely (I would say never) anyone's ONLY criterion for happiness.
Similarly, if there are too many criteria for you to meet in your personal Definition of Happiness, it is difficult to get them all aligned and you will likely not achieve maximum happiness either. So, for example, if you truly needed wealth, fame, perfect health, good looks, many good friends, a great marriage, an active sex life, enough free time to travel 12 weeks every year, a career as a successful musician, and the freedom to spend lots of time with your children, it might be tough to be totally happy since all those criteria are not likely to be met.
So, what do you do?
You must take the time and effort to create your own personal Definition of Happiness.
Here are the basic guidelines:
- Your Definition of Happiness should contain at least 3 and at most 5 criteria which you must have in your life to be happy
- Achieving each of these criteria should be at least partially within your control
- At least 2 of the criteria should be relatively easy to achieve (see below)
- Each criterion should motivate you and give you a positive feeling
Guideline number 3 above may need a bit of explanation. “Relatively easy” here basically means setting yourself up for success (i.e., true, lasting happiness). It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a certainty, but it does mean it should be something likely to be achieved if you work on it. Things like “getting rich” or “becoming one of the best, most popular musicians in the world”, for example, are not easy criteria to meet. They take considerable effort, persistence, maybe some “luck” and probably the help of other people. “Contributing regularly to the lives of others” and “pursing personal growth”, on the other hand, are relatively easy to achieve – partly because they are almost entirely within your control. But, as you can see, by “relatively easy” I don’t mean it takes no time or effort – since, as you can see in my “easy” examples here, they definitely take focus, commitment, time, and effort as well.
Now, as you contemplate your own requirements for happiness (the “criteria” for your Definition of Happiness), consider questions like:
- Is money, wealth, or the things money can buy or do important?
- Is having a purpose or contributing something to the world a factor?
- Is happiness related to your children or other family members in some way?
- What role, if any, does personal growth play in your ability to be happy?
- What role, if any, does your career play in your ability to be happy?
- Are relationships in general – or specific relationships - critical to your happiness?
- Are fun, variety, adventure, or travel important to you?
- What are your talents and are you using them?
- What are you passionate about?
- How does health, your body, your weight, or your vitality affect your mental state?
The most critical factor in creating your personal Definition of Happiness is that it must be your definition. It must fit you and be meaningful to you. You should even feel some emotion when you read it, because once you have achieved a life totally consistent with your definition, nothing can make you unhappy, regardless of the circumstances that occur in your life, including the inevitable difficulties and challenges we all experience in life.
So again, crafting your Definition of Happiness is a very important first step to lifelong happiness.
Key Point #1: To be as happy as possible in life, your “Definition of Happiness” must be fulfilled as completely as possible.
Key Point #2: If you are truly happy according to your specific personal Definition of Happiness, nothing can make you unhappy — even intensely negative situations or circumstances.
CREATE YOUR DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS...
As with many other happiness-building concepts, as mentioned previously, determining your Definition of Happiness can be difficult. So for additional help in creating your definition, click here.
BeHappy! my friends