How to be happy

Here in mid-life I have come to believe that happiness* comes from having passions that are their own reward. Acceptance, accolades, and good hard cash money for doing what you are passionate about are all nice but they are not a given and counting on them to result when you really don’t control if any or all will come is not a prudent plan.

The passions needn’t always be the same ones over the course of a lifetime. In fact, sometimes the things we love when we’re young are things that we can’t do later in life.  Or maybe later in life something strikes your fancy that would have left you cold when you were younger. The people I see who are most unhappy are the ones who don’t have passions that fire them up and engage them. The people who have good reason to get out of bed in the morning are the happiest. Even if nobody else cares about those reasons but those individuals. 

These passions are harmless by definition; that is they can’t hurt the individual or anybody else. Being passionate about drinking a bottle of wine daily does not count. Being passionate about screwing other people out of their money does not count. And so on.

You’ll notice I’m not saying anything about love or relationships with other people bringing about happiness. It isn’t that I’m discounting them (hardly) so much as I believe they alone are not enough and you can actually overburden your relationships when you try to get everything from them. Also – your passions are something under your control. They feed you independent of your relationships with other people.

 

*If you don’t like the word “happiness” (one which I generally don’t use because I think it’s a transient state, one of many), feel free to insert contentment, peace of mind, or satisfaction.

 

 

NOTE: I’m having internet issues and may not see or respond to your comments right away. But it doesn’t mean I don’t like ’em!

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “How to be happy

  1. Kate Crimmins

    I think happiness comes from within. Like you said you have to be doing things that make you feel good about yourself and you will be content. I also think “happiness” as defined today is transient. For me it’s not about the euphoria you get over something or someone but the pleasure over time.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I see what you’re saying Kate but I’m thinking of a slight variation; that is, it’s not that it would make you necessarily feel good about yourself because passions take you out of yourself and you stop thinking about whether you feel good or not. You just “are.” And true enough about the typical defnition of happiness; it has no depth, no roots.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Pistachios

    I agree so much with this, particularly about not relying on getting everything from relationships. And a very good point about our passions being under our own control. It’s very encouraging!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Exactly. Earlier in life I looked to my relationshps too much and was often let down because of my expectations. I began to notice that I tended tobe happier when I was focused on things I love doing, or “more” focused at least. And it helps offset the vagaries, inconsistensies and lack of control that are inherent in relationships.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Maggie Wilson

    There you are! Hope you’ve been doing OK?

    As a kid, I defined happiness by those moments when I felt compelled to smile or laugh. Today, I would define it as an underlying current of contentment, of feeling engaged, with a sense of purpose.
    I keep going back to an online piece about Dan Pink’s theory of what motivates us. The piece is written for business managers, but I see it as an approach to finding “happiness” in our day-to-day lives. In a nutshell, if you’ve got autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose, you are on your way to contentment.

    Sure, having a companion is nice, but not a prerequisite – ditto outside praise or compensation – nice, but not integral to the process.

    As usual, a thoughtful post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Hey Maggie, I am okay, thank you. I have been scarce from WordPress but haven’t gone far…

      “underlying current of contentment” is an excellent phrase and visual. Like something that flows through your blood.

      I haven’t heard of this Dan Pink; probably because I am not in the business world. I just checked some of his stuff out; I wonder if motivation varies between men and women? I so often read that (for women anyway) it’s important to build small rewards into our daily lives as we go along. I personally am VERY reward motivated so far as getting myself to do things I’d rather not. For example, this week I had to have a filling replaced. I was not looking forward to either the event or parting with the money. It helped to promise myself a trip to the thrift store as a reward after.

      My contentment varies from day to day but on whole I’d say it’s improved with age.

      Your comments are always great.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Hi V! You were gone awhile yourself and I wondered about you. You are so right about peace. It’s underrated and I expect that many people don’t see the lack of it as a major driving force in their lives. I used to think “peace” meant being quiet and dull. I don’t think that now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. vanbytheriver

        I was gone for a while, trying to come to a place of peace, the kind that comes when you realize there are situations in life over which one has no control. The peace…it’s in the “letting go” sometimes, C.

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Thank you Tim! I have been signing into WordPress (if not posting) and have trooped over to your blog several times just in case I’d missed a post. I know you’d been feeling a bit at a loss with your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Have something you'd like to say about this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s