How To Find Happiness For A Lifetime

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

What is happiness? Happiness is often thought as exciting yet elusive. For many happiness is burst of joy you feel that doesn’t last long. Material things, romantic love and accomplishments can give you that fleeting joy. Money can bring fleeting happiness. Just like anyone else, I love that type of happiness!

For me true happiness comes from peace of mind
, inner joy, contentedness, gratitude, compassion and kindness. This can come from helping others and following a true passion and being with people that love you unconditionally.

I also think that happiness is a choice. It’s a Do It Yourself project. It’s changing your reaction to something that makes you unhappy. But are you open to change?


I believe happiness is a natural state
. I usually wake up every morning happy. Maybe I was born that way. I feel that it’s what happens to us in a day that can bring us down. Are people born with a little happier personality than others? Yet, even naturally happy people are not happy all the time. Everyone has times when they feel sad, frustrated, guilty, angry and feeling other negative emotions. Happy people are just better at bouncing back to a state of contentedness.

Do you know that while the 20th century has been on a quest to find happiness, ours isn’t the first to try to understand true happiness? That’s been going on since the beginning of human existence. From Ancient China and India to the Greeks and on through the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, humans have tried to figure out what happiness is all about.

Ancient China had three religions, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, that all strove towards a contented inner peace type of happiness.

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.

If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.

If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.

If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.
”

~Chinese Proverb

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras
were written in Ancient India between 100 BCE and 500 CE. These four key ideas were friendliness for the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard for the wicked so that the practitioner can approach any situation with a peaceful mind and maintain calmness.

Buddhism
– For Buddha, the path to happiness starts from an understanding of the root causes of suffering. Buddha’s contemporaries described him as “ever-smiling” and portrayals of Buddha almost always depict him with a smile on his face. But rather than the smile of a self-satisfied, materially-rich or celebrated man, Buddha’s smile comes from a deep equanimity from within. ( from http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/)

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
”

~Buddha

Ancient Greeks philosophers were always debating happiness. Epicurus wrote De rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) and Aristotle wrote the Nicomachean Ethics. Happiness to the Greeks was an action.

“We must, therefore, pursue the things that make for happiness, seeing that when happiness is present, we have everything; but when it is absent, we do everything to possess it.”
~Epicurus

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”

~Aristotle

When Thomas Jefferson wrote that we have the right to pursue happiness he got inspiration from all these cultures. He owned copies of the Greek books by Aristotle and Epicurus on happiness. During the 18th century, also called the Age of Reason, many philosophers like John Locke and Samuel Johnson were talking about the idea of individuals and happiness. Many governments were changing, including our own, because of this idea.

Are you seeking to be happier?
The first thing you need to do to start being happy is:

1. Ask yourself what isn’t happiness? – What isn’t happiness to me is the negative emotions like worry and anger, comparison, doubt and lack of confidence. Acknowledge that these emotions are a part of life and move on. Although, understand that to know true happiness one often has to feel sorrow first.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”

~Kahlil Gibran

2. Are you practicing the following positive thinking life skills? If so, you’ll get that contented inner peace type of happiness that is true and not fleeting. Do you practice:

Gratitude – being thankful daily for all the good things in your life.
• Quiet Mind - through nature, walks or meditation.
• Mindfulness - living in the moment, going slowly through life and eating mindfully.
• Good relationships with family and friends – not constant craziness in relationships.
• Optimistism - seeing the glass as 1/2 full.

3. Next try to find a balance in life by being:

• Inspired – read daily inspirational quotes or whatever makes you feel inspired for the day. Come read my facebook page‘s daily quotes.
• Creative - do something creative. For me, it’s photography. Don’t worry about being good!
• Funny and practicing humor and laughing more! Just smiling can make your day better.
Being healthy – eat healthy, exercise and eat mindfully.
• A life long learner – stay interested in your passion. I love reading about history, gardening, cooking and travel.
• A help to others – some people think that this is the key to true happiness. Nothing makes someone feel better than helping others.

Your homework is to figure what is the difference between the things that give you fleeting joy and what gives you that true contented feeling. Then try to practice the positive! It can work instantly! Let me know how it goes!!

**************

I’d also like to let you know that I’m part of the Britelife Summit
hosted by Andrea DeBell from Britetalk, from July 16 – July 27 for two weeks dedicated to HAPPINESS and improving the quality of our lives. I am one of 11 bloggers who are talking on the subject of how you can embrace happiness and lead a more fulfilling life. You can attend this event from anywhere in the world. It’s an online event, so you can access the interviews by either calling in or through a free Internet webcast. All you need is a computer. It’s that simple!

Each day, the speakers in the Britelife Summit will be highlighting a different pathway to happiness.

You still have time to sign up for the FREE “Britelife Summit on Happiness” tele-series starting on July 16.

Click here for more information.

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20 Responses to How To Find Happiness For A Lifetime

  1. I love how you included the historical perspectives on happiness! It’s funny how humans have been chasing something for millennia that’s right under their noses. Maybe it seems so hard to find because many people try to find solutions outside of themselves instead of looking within.

    Yes, we are all awesome enough to be the solution to our own problems.

    Your list of practices is perfect! While I would love to pick one or two as my favorite, I think they all work together to create the internal environment of happiness.

    I’m so happy to have you in my life, Betsy!!

    Big, Big Hugs!!

    [Reply]

  2. sheila says:

    awwwwwwwwww thanks Betsy for including my link in the inspirational quotes. Sending you hugs across the way! :) :) :)
    Love this post. It’s very comforting.

    [Reply]

  3. Vidya Sury says:

    I LOVE that Chinese quote. It is begging to be a poster, Betsy!:D I’d like to borrow it! But being a big fan of quotes, I love them all. If we could all answer the question “What is your goal in life” with the answer “Happy” I think we might all actively tune our actions towards it – and the journey itself would be so fulfilling.

    My favorite here (it was tough but I chose!) is this: “2. Are you practicing the following positive thinking life skills?” Looks like a ticket to happiness for me!

    Great post. With such valuable points. Hugs!

    I love it when I wake up, nurture my coffee and log in to email to see a post from you!

    [Reply]

  4. Ted says:

    Betsy,

    When you discuss happiness in this blog, you say “maybe I was born that way”.
    We will always remember one of your favorite posters that hung in your room
    as a youngster:
    “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!”
    You were blessed early with a positive attitude (that must have come from your
    mother) that you have nurtured all your life, and are now spreading through your
    blogs.
    We are proud of your great attitude and talent!
    Love,
    Mom & Dad

    [Reply]

  5. As always, your blog posts make me smile. Thanks Betsy for the reminders.

    [Reply]

  6. Elle says:

    What a ‘cheerful charlie’ you are Betsy. You always bring a smile to my face for which I’m thankful. I love the concept of happiness, for me, for you for everyone. I truly imagine everyone being happy, for pretty much selfish reasons…if more people were happy then the consciousness of the world would be happier…and I would get to experience…that’s right…more happiness.

    Your quote from the Buddha is one of my favourites. Thank you for this happy post!

    Elle
    xoxo

    [Reply]

  7. JennyBean says:

    Betsy, I’m sitting on a screened-in porch overlooking the ocean. It’s cocktain hour and I’m having a nice pinot noir, and Moose is tuckered out and having a later afternoon nap. I AM HAPPY!

    And I’m so looking forward to meeting you in person at Blogher, my sage bloggy friend!

    xoxo

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Betsy,
    Loving this post and absolutely adore all the quotes you have used here.
    This is such an uplifting and important post. I do wish the world would know to look within for happiness and not outside…
    Sending you buckets of love,
    Z~

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  9. p.s. thank you for the link luv!! Super appreciate it :)

    [Reply]

  10. Wonderful post, Betsy. It’s so upbeat and positive. Your inner happiness shines through, and your information on the history of happiness was so interesting. Take care, Cathy

    [Reply]

  11. Fran Sorin says:

    Betsy-

    Beautiful quotes, along with the history makes for a compelling post. And this one sure is

    “Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.” Love this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh.

    I would guess Betsy that you were born with a happy personality. Your sunny disposition, focus on beauty and unadulterated joy comes through in all of your writing..xxoo-Fran

    [Reply]

  12. I totally agree that happiness is a choice! When i look back on times I’ve been unhappy it’s almost 100% of the time when I’ve CHOSEN to let unhappiness take over. Great post, as usual!

    [Reply]

  13. Elly says:

    Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of that candle will not be shortened. Happiness can never be decreased by being shared. Buddha
    I just love that!!! Amazing that I saw a shortened version in an email just this morning. I think it is talking to me… Thank you for bringing happiness to wherever you are.

    [Reply]

  14. Pingback: How to Create Positive Experiences in Just Two Minutes! | *Positive Provocations*

  15. Betsy, this is such a beautiful post which everyone MUST read:-).

    Thanks for sharing this – it has truly made me happy today!

    It’s time for us all to share more happiness in the world, just like lighting a thousand candles from one candle…

    [Reply]

  16. Happiness is reading a blog about happiness! Love the inspirational quotes Betsy!
    For me inner happiness stems from gratitude. Even when life is throwing up some challenges there’s always space for some bright moments and thankfullness.

    [Reply]

  17. Unknown Mami says:

    I’m pretty good at talking myself out of happiness. It’s not a skill I’m proud of.

    [Reply]

  18. Pingback: Is it problematic or simply questionable? | Personalpower4me's Blog

  19. Galen Pearl says:

    What a wonderful and joyful tribute and call to happiness! It does, as you say, begin with choice. Happiness is inextricably tied to personal accountability. And if we repeatedly choose happiness moment by moment, it becomes a habit, our default position.

    I am excited for you about your speaking participation in the conference. You will be awesome, of course.

    [Reply]

  20. Nancy says:

    I’m the marketing assistant for Robert Scheinfeld, a NY Times bestselling author who just wrote a new book on how to be happy. It’s called “The Ultimate Key To Happiness.” It offers a v-e-r-y different approach to defining what happiness really is, and a very different step-by-step path to experience it all the time, no matter what’s going on around you. The Internet has gotten so complex. So many options. Can anyone here share ideas for how to get the word out there about this important new book? I’d love to hear your ideas. I’m sure there are tons of ideas I’ve never thought of before.

    [Reply]

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