Fatigue, stress, and worry are seemingly part and parcel of the modern world. We, especially as Americans, exists in an almost constant state of pursuit (of life, love, happiness, career, money, etc.). Unlike many of the self-help books of the last 2-3 decades, there are several groups of scientists and medical doctors that are approaching this as did the healers and shamans of the past centuries, as a medical health problem. Studies have already shown that fatigue and stress seriously limit the body’s ability to react to environmental hazards such as sickness and injury.
But what makes people happy? How can someone cultivate a sense of contentment and still seek to better themselves, either by their own standards or societies’ standards. Like much in the world, there is a paradox to life that requires that we balance all of the aspects of our lives. Without this balance, we either become constantly driven to succeed and excel or lose touch with the outside world as we draw into ourselves.
Distilling the different aspects of contentedness as well as advice from various religions, philosophies, doctrines, etc, there are basically five pillars that help to support this sense of happiness.
- · Devoting time to relationships- This can be family, friends, social groups, or even whole communities. Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive energy helps not only the mental and emotional mood but also build a support system where triumphs can be celebrated. When triumphs are in short supply, relationships allow for solace and time to heal. These relationships have to be nurtured though. Mutual appreciation as well as kind words and deeds go a long way to cementing the bonds.
- · Appreciate what you have-A sticking point for some, highly driven people can see this as a copout. “Appreciating what you have leads to laziness as the next goal gets further and further away.” The truth is though that at some point what you have now was a goal you had in the past. Rejoice in your accomplishments and enjoy the journey along the way.
- · Have a sense of purpose-Finding what energizers you or what makes you proud is an important step in realizing contentment in your life. By bringing the community together as well as building self-esteem among individuals, having a purpose in life allows for a greater deal of happiness.
- · Maintain a positive and optimistic outlook-Is the glass half empty? Is it half full? An age old question of how life is seen through the lenses of our experience. Cynicism, distrust, hate, anger…all of these things take up timer and energy that can be devoted to love and optimism. This is not to say that walking around constantly ignoring real problems is any better, but facing challenges is much easier with a sense of positivity.
- · Live in the moment-Live today. Experience joy today. Do not set off your happiness for the weekend. Look for opportunities to enjoy life as you move through your daily routine. This could mean a sunrise or a cookie, the expression matters little but the intent is setting a positive outlook and bringing that to others.
Happiness shared is happiness multiplied.