When teaching a group of teenagers a few months back I asked them what they wanted to ‘be’ when they grew up. Many of them misunderstood the question and responded by telling me what they wanted to ‘do’ for a living. We had a great discussion, but the intent behind the question was to get to a critical principle that needed to be taught. Who we are and what we become in our heart is more important to our happiness than external influences such as employment or material possessions. Whilst we may seek material comfort to be happy, evidence now abounds that tells us that beyond a certain base income, money does not affect our happiness all that much. Research also confirms that neither youth, beauty, intelligence or education impact our happiness for the long term either! I don’t know about you – but I am glad to hear that! Now I’m in my 40’s, youth is not on my side. My wife would tell you neither is my intelligence! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder which puts that one out there for heated debate and as the sole provider for a family of nine – you have to earn a lot just to be poor! If I relied on social standards versus truth – I would have little hope of lasting happiness 🙂
So what does create enduring happiness? Self esteem, social skills, free time, volunteering and humour are proven to be key indicators. As you look into your own life – how are you doing in each of these areas? How do you spend your spare time? Science suggests that the biggest predictor of happiness is the extent of our social relationships. Dr Gilbert, in his discussion on The Emotional Life shared three findings on the science of happiness:
- We can’t be happy alone
- We can’t be happy all the time
- We can be happier than we are now
My question today is: Are you seeking to enrich relationships, devote time to others, improve your sense of self and enjoy a balance between hard work and free time? If so – you will find that happiness will ensue. I think that if we pursue happiness, it can evade us. Pursue goodness, selflessness, integrity and service to others and good things will always follow.
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