Smile please...

Happiness is one of those strange ethereal concepts that is nearly impossible to define yet is universally desired. If we were to adhere to the Law of Jante, then we may be led to believe that lower expectations are the key. If we were to follow the teachings of modern consumerism, then owning all the things is what will put a smile on your face. But really, what do you really need in your life to be happy? Let us count the ways.

Financial Security

We’ve been told time and time again that money can’t buy happiness, but that is only partly true. While those in higher income brackets generally say that they are happier than those who earn less, there is a certain level when you’ll start to experience diminishing returns.

And this is why I cite “financial security” rather than “immense wealth” as a fundamental component of happiness. If you’re overwhelmed by bills, if you’re worried about where you’ll find your next meal, if you’re concerned that you’ll be out of house and home should you suddenly lose your job, it’s awfully difficult to be truly happy. If all your basic needs are being met and you don’t have to troubled by financial concerns, then you can better focus on everything else in life.

Jokingly, I’ve always said that money can’t buy you happiness. What it can do is buy you that yacht that’ll take you to your beachfront property with unobstructed happiness views.

To Love and Be Loved

As cliche as it may sound, humans are inherently a social species. Even if you are an introvert at heart, you will likely never be happy if you are always alone. There’s a reason why movies and TV shows oftentimes depict recluse hermits as angry or bitter at the world. When you’re an introvert, it just means that you’ll treasure a smaller number of more intense relationships.

We all yearn for a sense of belonging, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, and it is through the relationships we build with loved ones that we can truly embrace that feeling. And this love can come from family and close friends alike.

Existential Fulfillment

On some level, ignorance can be blissful. On another level, I think we’d all agree that a life of simply going through the motions is a superficial and meaningless life. Instead, happiness is derived from a fullness of experience. It’s a life where you can do what you love and earn the sense that what you’re doing really matters.

Go out and see the world, help your fellow man, and truly make a difference. And in the process, you’ll learn to truly understand yourself and what makes you happy. Live your life with purpose and on purpose.

Relative Absence of Pressure

This is perhaps the facet of happiness with which I struggle the most. I very much feel the obligation, as a father and husband, to provide for my family. I very much feel the obligation, as an entrepreneur, to keep selling and to keep growing. I very much feel the obligation, as a writer and artist, to produce quality content on a continuous basis. I always feel the pressure to perform.

To some extent, this is perfectly healthy and natural. It can provide motivation to keep moving forward. And while there is nothing wrong with chasing the carrot, it is only when we come to accept that it’s perfectly fine whether or not we actually get that carrot that we can be happy.

Some may say this is a defeatist or a “loser’s” attitude; I disagree. It’s the attitude of someone who is simultaneously content with what he has and inspired to seek more. Such is the paradox of happiness.

Being Happy Is a Byproduct

The irony of the situation is that if you about life looking for happiness, you’ll likely never find it. Happiness isn’t out there to be discovered and unearthed. It’s something that comes from within and it must start with a sense of inner peace. Happiness is not something that exists in isolation; it is something that just happens to come about as you make your way around the adventure of life.

Do the things that make you happy, be around those who make you happy, and seek to be the better person greater than yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll enjoy a glimmer of joy and serene harmony.