This month, Alex Shalman started the Happiness Project. He’s interviewing bloggers, asking them the same 5 questions about happiness. He’s also asked other bloggers to answer the questions on their own blogs. So I’m participating. If you’d like to answer them on your own blog, please do!
1. How do you define happiness?
I read some of the happiness posts from other bloggers and saw a variety of answers for what might seem like a simple question. What is happiness? According to WordNet, happiness is a “state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That’s the best one I found online that reflects my own perception of happiness.
Many bloggers talked about how happiness varies from person to person. I think what varies is the path to reach it, not the state of feeling it. Happiness is an inside job. There’s a BIG difference between factors that make you happy, and the feeling you get from being happy, which to me is happiness. Happiness makes me want to wake up to get my day started. Things don’t always go right. Sometimes I have situations that are downright stressful. But with it all, I have an overall feeling of contentment with my life.
So, to me, happiness is an overall feeling of consistent contentment and pleasure in being alive, despite day-to-day situations, opportunities, and getting past obstacles.
It’s staying off of the roller coaster that equates happiness with getting something you want–a possession, romantic partner, raise at work, etc. Material gains and accomplishments make you feel good for the moment and send you up on the roller coaster in exhilaration. If you lose or don’t get them, happiness takes a nosedive with your disappointment, and your ride goes down.
Real happiness keeps you on a more level path and allows you to bounce back from those ouch moments of losing or not receiving what you wanted or hoped for.
2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
I was a very happy child. I’d say a 9. If I were more secure about my appearance, I’d have rated it a 10. I had lots of love, friends, good grades, and fun. I lost myself in my earlier adult years, when insecurity made me a DoorMat. Then I was a 1. Now I’d say my happiness is 10 most of the time. While there are LOTS of things I haven’t gotten yet or would love to have more of, I love me, and my life all the time. Getting more increases my joy, not my overall happiness.
3. What do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? (and how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day)
I cultivate consciousness about feeling completely spiritually supported. Knowing I have God on my side nurtures my contentment. It minimizes worrying and stress. I can let life happen, knowing when the time is right I’ll get what I need. I reinforce my happiness by counting the blessings I already have instead of lamenting over what I don’t. The self-love I developed that propelled me out of DoorMatville is a large source of fuel for living in a permanent state of happiness!
Helping others nourishes my own happiness. I’m blessed beyond measure to be able to serve God through my writing and speaking. Knowing that I make a difference in the lives of others is a great source of happiness!
I consciously feel the joy of knowing that I burned my teaching license years ago and vowed to only make a living doing things I love. For years my life has been completely passion driven as I keep that promise. Even if there are disappointments or glitches, I know it’s MY choice to live as I do. I’ve been earning a living doing only what I love for many years, being in control of my life—a perpetual reason to feel happy!
4. What things take away from your happiness? What can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
While I do sometimes succumb to negative situations, I look back on the days I was an unhappy DoorMat and remind myself how lucky I am to be living off of my passions of writing and speaking. And, that I’m blessed to have learned to love me. When I’m feeling down about something or questioning my lifestyle, I go to a mirror and say, “I love you!” After years of hating myself, it feels awesome!
During those times, I ask God for support to get past it. For many years, right after I ask, I get a blast of fan letters from people who’ve read my books. Or something good but unexpected happens. That reinforces that God has my back and I feel better. I also clean and get rid of stuff, as a way of feeling in control of something. Brings me right back to positive!
5. What do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
I’ll continue to pursue what I love, with a passionate intensity. I work on changing my behavior and thoughts so that the Law of Attraction manifests even more goodies for me. When you practice feeling grateful for every little blessing you have, those blessings temper life’s detours and potholes. That reinforces happiness as a state of overall contentment. Making the best of what you do have rocks!
I’ll also work harder to raise the money for my company, Project Self-Empowerment, to self-publish my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways, and give it away in colleges, shelters, organizations, etc. as a way of saying thanks for my blessings. That makes me happier than selling it and making lots of money!