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- The different meanings;
Most of us fall somewhere between, closer to the middle than the edges. Over the millennia many have offered answers to this question and nearly all came back with too simple answers to what is, at its core, a complex problem. Let me ask you a question. Would you say that you, like all humans, are complicated to understand?
Of course you are. We all are. That complexity means that there are no simple, one-size-fits-all answers to what makes us happy. Our individual needs vary based on our genetics, how we were raised, and our life experiences.
That complex combination is what makes each of us unique, both in our exact needs, and in every other aspect of what makes us the person we are. We may each be complex but we are all human and that provides the foundation on which we can discover our essential human needs. Just as we are all born looking human on the outside, we all share common basic needs on the inside. Where we differ is exactly how strongly we feel each of those needs. I like to think of each of us like one of those big recording studio mixer boards, the ones with all the sliding controls and knobs, some of which interact with each other, some working separately, all working together to produce the final product.
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Each knob and slide may be set a particular way, the way that produces the person we are. We each have the same knobs and sliders but we each have them set a bit differently. Our current theory, largely based on new scientific discoveries about how the brain works and on current happiness theories, has identified 9 universal and overlapping human needs which go by the handy acronym WE PROMISE.
These 9 categories cover the range of human needs in a very general way and are intentionally overlapping, just as our thoughts and feelings overlap in our mind. All these are experienced in one event, many at the same moment in time. Wishing you happiness and fufillment, Kenneth Benjamin and the Happiness International team. What is Happiness? I worked really hard and got to the top of the mountain. What I actually found at the top of the mountain was disappointment. But little did I know it, I had no idea what happiness was. There are probably as many definitions of happiness as there humans on the planet but broadly speaking, modern psychology categorizes happiness in two parts:.
Experiencing positive emotions like joy, pleasure and excitement We are all familiar with this type of happiness — good food, great sex, new clothes, walks on the beach, hot oil massages and puppies, lots of puppies. Living with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment with life We are less familiar with this type of happiness as it is not as straightforward as getting a massage or hugging a warm puppy.
Rather it involves a deliberate process of self-discovery and cultivating the right mental attitudes to live a happy life despite the ups and downs of everyday emotions. Would you plug in or stay in your current life? The answer you give this question can reveal a lot about how you feel about happiness as an emotion. If you asked me this question shortly after I had finished climbing my mountain of happiness, I would have almost certainly said yes. This is because I saw happiness only as an emotion that I had to feel on a regular basis.
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This is why I chased goal after goal, mountain after mountain pursuing the good feelings a new job or new travel destination gave me. Before long, the emotions of joy and excitement would dissipate and I was back to where I started looking at an even bigger mountain to experience more joy in my life. This is a common path to happiness for many people. One often-cited study famously showed that despite their initial euphoria, lottery winners were no happier than non-winners eighteen months later.
However, we should be conscious that experiencing these short term emotional highs does not equate to long term happiness. We all want to feel joy and avoid pain, this is normal. The reality of life is that we all experience difficult emotions and circumstances. People get sick, we lose our jobs, relationships fall apart, things break, shit happens. And one of the biggest attachments we have is the desire to feel happy all the time.
1. Worrying about the future and other people’s opinions of you
In my own pursuit of happiness, I found the more I chased happy feelings, the more i neglected dealing with the difficult or negative emotions in my life. But these difficult feelings were not going away and only started to accumulate…. Even worse than suppressing these emotions was judging myself for having these unwanted emotions. But rather than judging or suppressing difficult or negative emotions, what helped me immensely was just accepting my emotions and letting go my expectations that I need to feel happy all the time.
Rather than turning a blind eye to my box of unwanted emotions, I sat down, opened the box and listened to what each emotion had to say. And the more I started to accept these neglected emotions, the more at peace I felt with myself and the less pressure I felt to feel happy; which paradoxically made feeling happy much easier. Whilst none of us want to experience sadness, it is a fact of life that we will. Accepting sadness or difficult emotions is not the same as wallowing and indulging in them.
We can observe emotions but we are not our emotions. And in due time, every emotion will come and go. No state of mind is permanent. Note : Experiencing negative emotions is part of life, however if you are experiencing emotions like sadness, hopelessness or anxiety persistently on a regular basis and this impacts your daily activities, we recommend you reach out to your local doctor and seek appropriate help to better understand the root cause of your emotions.
Happiness as an emotion is easy enough to grasp.
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Philosophers, psychologists, spiritual gurus and that uncle at every dinner party have all their views on what gives us satisfaction in life but the reality is that life satisfaction is a cake you need to bake yourself. You need to go on your own self-discovery journey to find what brings you to satisfaction and contentment. I found my list of ingredients through a combination of reading a tonne of books see resource section at the end of this article , reflecting for long periods of time in silence, traveling and speaking to wide range of people from teenagers to ninety year old monks about what gives them satisfaction in life.
Whilst no list can ever capture every aspect of life satisfaction, below are some of the most powerful ingredients that have transformed my satisfaction with life and may help you on your journey:.
For a lot of 20s I struggled with a deep hollowing feeling of meaninglessness. On the surface I would keep myself busy with chasing after goals and achievements but deep down I had a sense that something was always missing. There was no meaning, no clear sense of purpose in my life. I spent years working in large companies climbing the corporate ladder. But I never got any sense of purpose from what I was doing. I kept thinking to myself, there has to be more in life than building colorful spreadsheets and powerpoint slides.
This is not an uncommon scenario in our society, especially in the younger generations: doing a job that pays the bills but provides little to no sense of meaning or purpose for a deep dive into this: read our comprehensive post on purpose here. For me personally, I chose to quit my job in corporate and take time off to reflect on what I found meaningful. We find meaning in relationships with loved ones, through parenthood, spirituality, contributing to others or simply through the fact that we are alive. Ultimately each one of us is responsible for creating our own meaning. The beauty of going on this journey is that we are all in it together.
Not a single human came into being because of their own choosing. Your parents brought you into the world, and your parents were the result of their parents, and so on.
In a strange cosmic sense, every human alive today is in the same boat. We all ask ourselves: Why am I here? When I made the decision to practice gratitude daily, I felt as though a new world had opened up to me. I could suddenly see things that were invisible to me before. The more I practiced gratitude, the more I started to observe the beauty and blessings I had in my life and the more I felt content with my life. I started with writing 3 things I was grateful for every morning when I woke up. This simple task made a significant difference to how I felt about my life.
I found my mind was constantly looking for things to be grateful for so I could write them down the following day. Gratitude slowly became part of my mindset, something I did without conscious thought.
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