What makes us happy? Is it enough money to live a carefree lifestyle? Is it spending time with loved ones? Or is it spending time doing whatever it is we are passionate about.
An industry has grown in recent years around the topic of happiness. There are “happiness experts” everywhere. In Australia one self-proclaimed expert is Dr Timothy Sharp who is ‘Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute‘.
Dr Sharp’s book “The Happiness Handbook – Strategies for a happy life” opens with this quote:-
“Happiness is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practised every day…while misery is simply a few errors of judgement and bad habits repeated every day”.
The Buddhist philosophy for happiness (according to Dr Sharp) is that happiness is the ultimate purpose of life, is achievable for all of us, and is determined by our mind rather than our circumstances.
“The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.”
Sometimes what makes us happy is not necessarily good for us. Think alcohol to an alcoholic or shopping to a shopaholic.
Remember the scene in Confessions of a Shopaholic when Isla Fisher’s character is asked by her boyfriend why she keeps on shopping?
Her answer sent shivers of recognition down my spine when I heard it. The gist of it is,
“Because when I buy something, suddenly the world becomes a much brighter place. At least for a while. And then it isn’t anymore, until I go shopping again”.
I sometimes feel this way about champagne as well as shopping. And boxing classes when my hand is not fractured.
A friend of mine, let’s call him Dan, is a leading academic on the issue of addiction.
Dan said in an article in The Age “There is evidence to suggest that people who are vulnerable to addictions already have an underlying emotional problem”.
So does this mean being unhappy can lead to addictions? I must remember to ask him, over a glass of wine, when he returns from his American holiday.
In recent months for the first time since high school, I have worked only intermittently. This was fun for about the first month or so, particularly in January when I could chill out at my favourite spot in the world.
But after the kids went back to school and the sun disappeared, I became bored with only working spasmodically as I looked for a journalism job.
Slowly I lost confidence, direction and focus. Whereas previously I could complete say 10 tasks in a day while juggling all the balls in the air, now I struggled to complete one.
I was not in a happy place and felt like I was loosing sight of “me”.
Two weeks ago I started a new job as a “People and Performance Manager” for a training company. Since I started I feel energised and alive.
I feel like I am contributing. And that makes me happy.
Of course working is not the only thing that makes me happy. I get a very deep sense of satisfaction and happiness when I am writing.
And yes, I derive a lot of happiness from spending time with my friends and loved ones. My relationship with money on the other hand is better described as “frenemies”.
My issues with money aside, it feels good to be back on the right side of happiness. And without having become any kind of addict. Except maybe to posting on this blog.
Cheers to you finding and doing whatever it takes to make you happy,