Maureen Michaels

My thoughts on life and psychotherapy

Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

Elements of happiness

Happiness is an internal state of mind.

Yes, it’s been said before but I will say it again –happiness is an internal state of mind.

It is based on how we interpret our world and our experiences. Here are what I consider to be the key components for true happiness. If you can cultivate these four things in your life, whether you are a 70 year old grandmother or a Fortune 500 CEO, you will start to feel true happiness in your life.

Everything else is the proverbial icing on the cake.

1.) The ability to take care of oneself in life

Or in other words being a “self-feeder”. This means earning enough money to take care of basic (not extravagant) needs. You can put a roof over your head, feed yourself, get where you need to go, maintain some work. We tend to think money is the key to happiness but actually studies have found that once basic needs are meant extra money does not carry a great bang for the buck—pun intended.

2.) The ability to earn love

Lack of love, on some level, is why many people end up in my office. A simple definition of love is the expectation of being given good things by those with whom we interact. This can vary from the friendly greeting of your bank teller to the passionate embrace of your lover. All are degrees of love, appreciation and human warmth. Here’s the catch: there is no such thing as unconditional love. It must be earned. Love is conditional on what we offer another person in order for them to feel lovingly toward us. Unfortunately, one’s ability to earn love can be impeded by personality issues, neurosis and anger that most people are unaware they are presenting to others.

3.) The ability to cope with life’s difficulties

The easy parts of life (which are few) are just that–easy. Where we gain happiness is how we handle the difficulties that land in our path. This is learned as a child through our family experience and by our successes and especially our failures as we age. Handling life’s difficulties with grace, open-mindedness and with our problem solving hats on is paramount to internal happiness. Faulty teaching and imperfect role models cause many people to struggle with life’s difficulties.

4.) The ability to have fun

A friend of mine defined life as getting up every day and solving a series of problems. I think this is a fair perspective. We feel happier in life when we make a conscious effort to have fun in between and while solving life’s endless procession of problems. Life is hard work (see #3). That does not mean fun should be set aside until the work is done. The work of life is never done. Therefore, a person’s ability to have fun along the way is the final component to feeling happier.