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).
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.
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.
In the quiet moments of your day, are you happy? How do you define happiness?
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
From my heart to yours,