What Really Makes Us Happy? | Creating Happiness In Your Life
Our culture tends to encourage the idea that we “should” be happy all the time, leading many people to seek instant gratification, which rarely leads to happiness. People who are caught up in the instant gratification trap tend to indulge in short-term pleasures at the cost of long-term gains. They often look for happiness in what feels good now – drinking too much, eating too much, doing drugs, shopping excessively – all without a thought to the consequences that these actions bring. And although buying that expensive designer shirt or eating those donuts might feel good in the moment, it never leads to lasting happiness.
For others, happiness is an illusive quest as they search for the next thing that will make them happy. These types of individuals do set goals and delay gratification, but nothing they achieve is ever enough. They think they’ll be happy when they find the perfect partner, that amazing job, when they buy a house, when they have children, when they loose that 20 lbs. For them, happiness is always out of reach. Once they obtain the next thing on their list, they feel empty and hollow and think “is that all there is”. Even if they’ve reached a level of success beyond anything they’ve ever imagined, they still have that empty feeling – something is missing from life.
So what does make people happy? Research has shown that living an authentic life that has meaning and purpose are key to long-term happiness. And although each person is different, living a life of purpose typically includes:
- Living life according your values. One of the elements of living a happy life is to identify and live by your values. Your values are what you consider the important things in your life and help to define your priorities. For example, if you value family, but spend 50 hours at work each week and spend the time you are at home glued to your cell phone or computer, you will likely have inner conflict because the way you are behaving is not in line with your values. Our values influence our decisions and our actions and help us to live life with integrity. People who live according to their values aren’t easily influenced and swayed by others because they know what is important to them.
- Living life with passion. Another element to living a happy life is to have something that you’re passionate about. This can be your work, your hobby, something you’re learning or a special cause. What you’re passionate about is what makes you wake up each morning, eager and ready to face your day.
- Living life mindfully. Living a happy life includes living mindfully, in the present moment, instead of brooding over the past or worrying excessively about the future. Living mindfully helps us to feel less anxious and avoid burnout and stress. Mindfulness helps us to understand that we cannot be deliriously happy all of the time, and teaches us instead, to accept the current moment without judgment, and without trying to control or resist it.
- Living life contentedly. People who feel content are happier and according to Aristotle, “Happiness is self-contentedness”. This means being satisfied with who you are and what you have. It doesn’t mean that you should settle and not strive toward anything, but it’s better when you strive toward goals when you have peace within yourself. Without internal contentedness, you will always search for excitement and stimulation and no experience will ever be enough.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we apply Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principals to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety so that you can live a life of purpose. By working to change the emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems that contribute to your feelings of unhappiness, we can help you to live the best life possible.
Call GroundWork Counseling