“What is happiness?” a young child asked me.

For a moment I was a bit taken aback. Then I thought, ‘Happiness’ is a really complicated sensory thing – a bit like an onion. As you peel away the outer layers, according to your experience, you expose the deeper, more intimate layers, one by one, until you get to the core – inner peace and contentment, which is the essence of happiness.

Happiness has been described as beatitude, blessedness, bliss, cheerfulness, child-like innocent contentment, delight, ecstasy, felicity, being light-hearted, feeling carefree, good-humoured, fun-loving, being joyful, rapturous, merriment, tranquillity, or enjoying inner peace.

I know that inner peace is a necessary prerequisite of happiness. To be happy you must accept yourself, as you are now – not yesterday – or perhaps, tomorrow. You must eliminate that carping inner voice, which is always criticising you, putting down and minimising your achievements. Do this by accepting who and where you are, right now.
I believe happiness is about appreciating small things and simple experiences: the kind of things that leave lasting, enjoyable memories.

Happiness is not about over-the-top, expensive, “Gee whizz!” extravaganzas. They may look great, but the happy buzz you experience; doesn’t last beyond the moment. The novelty factor evaporates, like steam escaping from a kettle’s spout, leaving nothing behind.

For happiness, you need something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. Do note that: it’s someone to love – not someone to love you. It’s something you do for others that brings you lasting happiness.

Giving love to others and knowing it’s reciprocated, brings a new dimension of happiness into your life. Love is the food on which our happiness is based; yet so many people block this essential emotion, feeling that it brings unnecessary complications to their lives and makes them vulnerable. Pure love does not imply sexuality but deep, spiritual warmth that touches your soul, radiating feelings of great joy, when you share it with others.

Saying the words “I Love You” is so important in all your relationships; yet how frequently do we forget to say them to those closest to us. Telling your family and friends, “I Love You,” costs you nothing and brings so much joy and warmth into your life. Try it today!

A wonderful friend recently sent me a card, saying, “Don’t postpone joy.” How wise he is. Life is not a rehearsal. There are no re-runs! You only get one opportunity to live. As my friend, says: “Don’t postpone the joy.”

Our lives are full of joyful experiences, yet many folk don’t value them, as they should. So often, people put off the things that will make them happy, until they have achieved a set goal; but then – having reached that goal – there is always another reason why they cannot enjoy a state of bliss. Procrastination is a bad habit. Whatever you want to do in life, do it now – don’t procrastinate and put off starting. Between your dream and the fulfilment of it, life lies waiting.

The important thing about happiness is your attitude towards life. The secret is to look outwards – not inwards. It’s a positive mental attitude that is a pre-requisite for happiness. It is not what happens to you, but your reaction to it that is important. You can accept what has happened and deal with it, so you can move ahead; or stay negatively stuck in the moment, in denial.

Acceptance of life’s challenges is vital to your happiness. There are important lessons to be learned there; buried treasure waiting to be mined.

A doctor, speaking to a group of burned-out geriatric carers, told them of a person who was unable to speak, feed herself, was fully incontinent, and although usually of sunny disposition, often at night she would scream for long periods of time. She was unable to sit up unsupported, and couldn’t walk. He asked the group, “Who would be willing to care for this person?”
There was a totally unenthusiastic response.

He then said, “My wife and I are delighted to have this person in our household. She’s our three-month-old baby daughter.”

This provoked a huge wave of laughter among the carers. His point was clearly made – that of attitude. The baby was regarded as a delight to care for – but the prospect of caring for a geriatric with the same needs – a burden. A positive attitude is essential to your happiness.

Do you know what makes you happy? This knowledge could be the most important discovery in your life. Get a sheet of paper and list, ten things happy things from today.

Start a Happy Book and write these things, every day, and look back, on Blue days, when you need to find happiness.

© 2007 Helen F. McKay
Author of: Links to your Happiness