If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap. If you want happiness for a day – go fishing. If you want happiness for a month – get married. If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime – help others. Chinese Proverb.
We cannot seek happiness. We can only release the happiness that resides within us. We can’t make ourselves happy, we can only allow ourselves to experience happiness.
In an article by Michael Kraus, Ph.D., he poses he question, “Are there wrong ways to pursue happiness?” Dr. Kraus says, “Constantly pursuing happiness can lead to disappointment when one does not achieve one’s goals. Thus, people who are always trying to pursue happiness, just for happiness’ sake, are likely to feel worse as a result of this pursuit when they inevitably fail to become as happy as they’d like to be. In research supporting this view, people listening to a neutral music piece felt less happy when they were instructed to “try to make yourself feel as happy as possible” relative to people not given these instructions.” Happiness obviously came to people, not by trying to be happy, but instead, by allowing the happiness within them to resonate with an event. In this case, music. I’ll add that while I agree these comments by Dr. Kraus, I find myself differing with other perspectives he offers. You may want to check out his article. See what you think.
The other day, with three people in front of me, I was standing in a check out line. The second in line was a mom with a young child. The child dropped the sippy-cup he was holding and it made enough noise to capture the attention of all three of us, and the cashier. Immediately, the persons in front of and behind the mom reached down to pick up the cup. The first person in line got to it first, such that I could see her face as she handed the cup to the mom. She was smiling and obviously happy. She had just helped someone. It wasn’t planned. She had just reacted in a common fashion, wanting to help someone.
The gentleman behind the mom, and directly in front of me, who had placed second in the “I’ll get the cup for you,” contest, turned to me, shrugged his shoulders and smiled. He was happy too. By merely attempting to help someone, and seeing that person receive help, happiness was his.
I, myself, felt lifted by merely observing all this taking place. How simple it is to experience joy and happiness. Just help someone.
Caution. There is one caveat. Don’t keep score. Avoid adding up the help you have provided, expecting a reward. The reward is in helping someone, being there for someone. That’s the payback, that’s the reward. Look no further.
Avoid the kind of thinking that says, “I’ve helped so many people, but who’s helping me?” That’s a trap for doubt and resentment. Remember, the reward is in helping someone, being there for someone. That’s the payback, that’s the reward. Look no further and you will experience happiness.
Another way to feel happier, is to hold a conversation with a friend about something for which you are grateful. I promise you, this works. Each of my phone coaching sessions begin with sharing gratitudes. I may go first, or my client may start. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that the call, the session, begins on the high note of gratitude. Sometimes I’m simply grateful for the privilege of living this gift of life, family, my safe community, or some recent experience. Same with my clients. I never know what they’ll be sharing, but following each of us expressing gratitude, we are both happier and uplifted. This works, give it a try. Happiness will come from you, not to you. It’s already present in you. Release it! Don’t seek it, let your happiness seek expression through you. Be grateful.