Looking for answers to life's questions

I read Author McCloskey’s blog recently that brought up a subject that I feel so strongly about, I had to expound. What it is that makes one person live longer than the next? She pointed out that the happier man lived longer and enjoy his life more. That is often very true.

Many of us work hard to take care of ourselves with exercise and good diet. Some of us are lucky enough to have good genetics. Neither of these factors appears to be a guarantee. Add a positive, happy attitude to the mix, and you amp up the odds.

I have been a student of human nature for most of my life, trying to understand what make us do things in a certain way. Happiness is not a subject I have a lot of familiarity with as I tend to be stoic and practical. Life handed me lots of lemons so I’ve become practiced in all manner of lemon recipes. Lavender lemonade is my favorite. That’s the nicest way I can say I was broken many times in my life. When you are in survival mode, happiness isn’t something you think about. You just want to stop the pain.

So what is happiness? There has been a great deal of research about it lately giving me the opportunity to do some of my own. How do you know when you are happy? It seems to be such a fleeting feeling that comes and goes with circumstances. Buddhists believe you can be happy all the time, in spite of circumstances in your life. I’m looking into it in a very serious way. My first glimpse at happiness started after reading Byron Katie’s book, “Loving What Is”. I hated that book but it changed my life. It’s one you throw across the room because aren’t done being pissed. I bought Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy for no Reason”. I didn’t read it right away either. My misery was quite comfortable where it was, thank you very much. I wanted a reason to be happy. (I know better now).

You have to be ready for change with this book.

You have to be ready for change with this book.

I still don’t understand completely what happiness looks like. Now that I am living alone, with very limited income and none of the things that “make people happy”, I’m often asked if I’m happy. My answer is that I’m content and working my way to understanding if that is happiness. What is the criteria for happy? I know it’s not based on stuff. Of course, books are the exception. With an attitude of gratitude, happiness soon moves in.

She did a lot of the same research I did. But she wrote the book.

She did a lot of the same research I did. But she wrote the book.

I’ve experienced great joys in life with my children. Even traveling with my mother to her homeland where we laughed out loud and giggled like school girls still brings a smile to my face. Watching puppies also gives me that warm, happy feeling. Doing a kindness in any capacity always leaves me happier. It’s the moments in between that I think we have to look at. You don’t have to be happy about your circumstances; just knowing you can get through them can raise the happiness quotient. I have long believed the happiness factor leads to increased longevity. I’m banking on it.

Puppies are always good for the warm fuzzies.

Puppies are always good for the warm fuzzies.

In the quiet moments of your day, are you happy? How do you define happiness?

Happy in writing class. Half shut eye is parayzed side but I'm really smiling here.

Happy in writing class. Half shut eye is parayzed side but I’m really smiling here.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”Mahatma Gandhi

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Comments on: "In Search of the Happiness Factor" (12)

  1. It’s a beautiful smile!

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  2. I wouldn’t be so grande to explain what happiness ‘is’ per say, I’d be well to leave that to the experts like Gandhi. I can tell you when I ‘feel’ the happiest on any given day can change from day to day too. One day it can be opening the windows to let the day wash in and hearing bird song, the next day might just be watching Petals and Blossum sleeping on the sofa wrapped up in each other. There’s the crafty days that make me happy to have the privilege to do so, especially when it’s for someone else or just talking with a friend about stuff. I guess I just try and limit the activity’s that make me unhappy, like driving in Edmonton or shopping for clothes and maximize the things that make my feel good. The ol’ “out with the bad air, in with the good”. It’s not book worthy but it seems to work for me. Great post Marlene, and you’ve got a sweet, sweet face. Mwaaaaa.

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    • Thanks Kelly. I’m pretty happy most of the time too. The hard part of a broken smile is that I can’t pucker up a kiss for my kids cheek. So they get a bigger hug. I miss a pet in the worst way and am still struggling to make friends. That’s what I miss most. I love seeing the baby ducks and geese right now. They are everywhere and too cute for words. Happiness is a choice that I’m still choosing more often than not these days. I feel quite content with life as it is but welcome more blissful moments when they come. I’ve learned a lot about happiness in the last 3 years. They haven’t closed the lid yet. 🙂

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  3. Heather Herself said:

    I’m happy when I get to see my beautiful mom smile like that!

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  4. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy anytime you choose to. I know that sounds like a simplistic platitude but I have found it to be true. I know plenty of people who are thoroughly enamored with their misery – so much so they’re only too “happy” to pass it on to anyone around them who’s willing to take it. I became happier when chose to distance myself from those kinds of people. I’m happy when I get another day to be a better person and live a better life.

    I’m also happy to see a picture of you. I think you’re beautiful and your kindness and compassion are “written” all over your face.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

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    • Thanks Alicia. So few understand that happiness is a choice. Most come by it naturally. It was a subject that I thought needed more daylight. That was one of the only pictures taken of me in many years. Thank you for your kind words. MH

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  5. I think that you can look at a glass and see it as either half empty or half full. It I consider it half full, i’m happier. 🙂

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    • I agree. Most days are more than full, It’s the leaky glass days we have to watch out for.:D. Thanks for reading. I’m always wondering what it is that defines happiness for people. Just wondering, as usual.

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  6. I traveled to your blog from Journey to Ithaca and have enjoyed your thoughts. Since I am on the happiness search myself, I can share one of my best resources for thoughts on the subject – Gretchen Rubin. Her books, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home have been pivotal for me. When I entered my 60s, I became more thoughtful (as if that was possible) and have realized that it is easier to dwell on unhappiness or difficulties while happy moments are fleeting and spontaneous. Savoring them became my mission and it is amazing. The more I embrace the happy moments, the more I find, and there is less space for ruminating on life’s problems. If I keep this up, I will be in a wonderful place when I retire. Whoo hoo!

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    • Thanks for stopping by Donna. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog too. As a matter of fact my copy of Gretchen Rubin’s book arrived in today in the mail. I agree with you that it’s always better to focus on the positive and give the negative as little attention as possible. I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl, I just wish they’d stop shooting holes in the damn glass. I hope we can help each other figure out this happiness thing. I was talking to my daughter today and we are trying to figure out what fun is.??? 😉 I We are going to discover it together.

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RIGHT FROM YOUR HEART

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