By Jinnie Cristerna
When it comes to happiness, people ask me two questions: 1) What does it mean to be happy? and 2) When do you know you’re happy? My answer is pretty simple: You’re happy when you feel good either in that moment or as a whole when you look back at your life.
Then, there is the follow up question: But what if I feel good but don’t feel happy? At first listen, this question seems silly. However, if you think about it, there are a lot of people who feel good about who they are or what they do but report “something’s missing.” It is that “something” that keeps them from feeling truly happy.
To me, it seems easier to explain the concept of happiness in terms of its “essence.” I see the essence of happiness as making a difference in the life of another while doing something you love. Oftentimes, people who are unhappy miss one of these two things.
For example, a parent may feel good about raising healthy children, but if they aren’t doing something that they personally love (e.g. painting) they may like something is missing. The same may be true of a wealthy man. While he may not want for much, he may have a desire to give to causes that are important to him.
If you are looking for something more specific that you can do to become a happier person the following may be helpful:
1) Find a cause. Helping others validates our sense of self. It tells us that we matter and make a difference in the world. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time someone said “thank you” and meant it. How did you feel?
2) Create something beautiful. Whether you are at work or at home, make your surroundings as beautiful as you can. This doesn’t require you to spend a lot, if any, money. Just bring in pictures of your family, friends, awards, or drawings. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel when things that make you feel good surround you.
3) Become curious. The world is much more grey than it is black and white. There is often a backstory and you may be unaware of it. The more curious we are about others, the less judgmental we become.