Learning Happiness

I have to confess…I’ve never been happier.

If you ever hear yourself say, “I’ll be happy when…”  you are most likely not on the road to happiness.

“Being happy or unhappy is your own choice.”   Naveen Jain from the Inside Quest podcast

“Happiness is available.  Please help yourselves to it.”   Quoted by Joseph Goldstein attributed to Thich Nhat Hahn

Are you happy?  

Can you describe your happiness using your senses? What does it feels like?  Smells like?  Sounds like?  Looks like?  Is there a color that represents your happiness? 

Though there is currently a good deal of happiness research being conducted, it’s a concept that’s been discussed for millennium.  Not all happiness is the same.  Our concepts and criteria for happiness are often anchored by the culture and in the era’s time and place. 

According to Psychology Today, the Ancient Greeks defined happiness as the joy that we feel when we’re striving after our potential.  And Aristotle declared, “Happiness is a state of activity.” 

Today, we’re bombarded by happiness images via cars, cloths, body types.  On some level we all know this is advertising — a chimera — yet we still fall prey.  Just yesterday I contemplated going out and looking for a new pair of shoes — because I thought making the purchase would make me a little happier; elevate my momentarily flagging spirit.  After a pause and deep breath, I left the shoes be;  then focused on one small thing I could do to move me closer to my goal.  

Today, I have never been happier.  My days are not easy — they are longer then they were when I was employed in a corporate job and often stressful.  I am responsible for it all.  But, I am crafting a life and a schedule that I love.  I love the projects I get to create, the clients I get to work with and the groups I’m putting together.   I took a leap into a new life.  I’ve worked hard at making it happen … it is not easy but I have never been happier getting up on Monday morning! 

So what can you do to get happier?  How can you craft a little more happiness in your life? 

Below are a few bookbundles and additional resources to get you to rethink happiness and  help you create a happiness plan. 

Questions I invite you to consider as you read & explore:

  • Are you happy?  Could you be happier?
  • What would happier look like?
  • What is one small thing (that won’t cost you any money) you could do today to get happier?
  • Research shows that giving to others can make one happier. How can you spread a little happiness?

Book Bundle:

Click on image to get to Amazon link.
Click on image to get to Amazon link.

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND & THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS BY LEWIS CARROLL

“Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.” 

*****

“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” 

*****

“Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. ‘Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

*****

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’
What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.
That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.” 

*****

“Come back!” the Caterpillar called after her. “I’ve something important to say.”
This sounded promising, certainly. Alice turned and came back again.
“Keep your temper,” said the Caterpillar.” 

*****

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” 

STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS BY DANIEL GILBERT

“Stumbling on happiness” has two meanings—to find something by accident or to trip over something like a child’s bike in the garage—and I intended them both. The book is much more about the second meaning, though: how we make mistakes as we pursue happiness. When we try to make plans to discover happiness, we’re likely to find ourselves facedown in the mud.

This former science fiction writer turned psychologist had a big hit with his book, Stumbling on Happiness and it changed his life.  His research has been eye opening.   For instance, most of us are terrible at predicting what will make us happy in the future.

So what’s Gilbert’s advice for Finding Happiness?   In a nutshell,

“If you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise, then skip the vitamin pills and plastic surgeries and try public humiliation, unjust incarceration, or quadriplegia instead.”

Here’s Daniel Gilbert’s Ted Talk on “The Surprising Science of Happiness.” 

Book Bundle:

Click on image to get to Amazon link.
Click on image to get to Amazon link.

BEFORE HAPPINESS BY SHAWN ACHOR

“What your brain attends to become your reality.”   — Shawn Achor

This former divinity school student got into the study of happiness to explore his own unhappiness problem.  His research has laid the groundwork for some simple (but not always easily implementable) techniques to increase your happiness.

Based on this research, the best way to change your reality is to first realize that there are multiple realities from which you could choose. I could focus on the one failure in front of me, or spend my brain’s resources processing the two new doors of opportunity that have opened. One reality leads to paralysis, the other to positive change. 

Happiness is NOT the belief that everything is great, happiness is the belief that change is possible.       —  Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor has one of the most popular Ted Talks,  The Wisdom of Play. 

JOY IN THE MORNING BY P.G. WODEHOUSE

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  –  Psalm 30:5

Many consider this P.G. Wodehouse tale of Bertie Wooster and his faithful valet Jeeves to be his masterpiece.

Wodehouse began the novel a year before he was arrested in Le Touquet and interned by the Germans.  When he was arrested, his captors allowed him to gather a few personal items.  Instead of taking the manuscript, he took The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  It was not until his wife joined him in Berlin (she had the manuscript with her) that he was able to continue work on his novel.

Here is a more complete history of the writing from Robert McCrum, a Wodehouse biographer.

Bernie Wooster and Jeeves may not be ‘happy’ but they do provide lessons and can serve as role models and examples that match to the current scientific research being done on happiness.

Additional Thought-Provoking Resources:

The Enchanted April, a 1922 period piece by Elizabeth von Arnim is a book recommended by ‘bibliotherapists’ Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin .  It may be a bit slow for some — but its a charming, gentle story that reminds us that how we see the world is how the world is.   Happiness is there if you see it.

The novel was made into a charming, charming 1991 film with Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Alfred Molina and Jim Broadbent    It is warm and lovely and will make you want to be happier.   Here’s a clip. 

Do go watch it 😊

BookBundles For: