October 10, 2011

Recipe for Happiness

I had an interesting experience the other day at a restaurant. The waiter had been very friendly and interested in my management book that was sitting on the table. I could tell he had been thinking about this question for awhile when he came over to the table and asked me “what do you think is the secret of happiness?” Maybe he thought someone who wrote a book would know the answer.

I never had a philosophical discussion with a waiter before so his question surprised me, but then got me thinking the rest of the day. What did I think was the secret of happiness? Why are some people happy and others unhappy?
I put the question “what do you think is the secret to happiness?” on Facebook and received a variety of responses such as: friends and family, health, winning the lottery, knowing our purpose and value in life, belief in God, seeing the glass as half full, philanthropy, and one of my favorites “happiness is a choice.”
So after discussion and reflection, this is my recipe for happiness, it has five ingredients:
  1. Purpose: I believe that people need purpose in life. Purpose can vary from raising a family, having a stimulating job, perfecting a skill, learning something new, volunteering for a worthwhile cause, etc. When you can wake up each morning knowing your purpose for that day, you are happier.
  2. Optimism: Optimistic people believe that negative events are temporary. They can see past their current state at a future that seems brighter. They have hope that things will change for the better and that hope drives them to work towards being happier.
  3. Gratitude: There are some people who spend their time focusing on what they do not or cannot have. People who can express gratitude for the things and people they have in their life now are happier. I like to fall asleep at night thinking about five “gratitudes” for that day.
  4. Altruism: When you use your skills, talents, or time to help others in need, you tend to forget about your own problems. According to The Healing Power of Doing Good by Luks and Payne, altruism can have powerful health and healing benefits including: a sense of well-being, exhilaration and euphoria, a more positive and happier outlook on life, decreased feeling of helplessness, loneliness and depression.
  5. Relationships: Having close friends/family to share the joys and sadness in our life makes us feel connected and supported. We feel accepted for who we are but also know that people care enough to encourage our growth and well being. The world was saddened recently by the death of Steve Jobs. His family, in a statement released by Apple, said Mr. Jobs "died peacefully today surrounded by his family." He was not surrounded by an IPod, I Phone, IPad, or Mac.
So what other ingredients would you add to the recipe?

1 comment:

Shirley Fine Lee (aka Meeting Wizard) said...

Here is a great post from Tom Basson’s blog:
16 Tips to Simplify Your Life (and Increase Your Productivity)
for additonal ideas that can increase your effectiveness and potential happiness.