What does happiness mean to you?
Recently I was on the Douglas Coleman Show, and he dove into a discussion around my pursuit of a Certificate in Happiness Studies (CiHS). Beyond my degrees in counseling psychology, I’m super interested in the field of positive psychology—specifically, the study of happiness.
To some, happiness is a new car, a clean bill of health, a promotion, or even the sunrise. Happiness varies based on the person, making it difficult to generalize since we all come from a different perspective about what it means to us.
Tying to explain happiness in general terms gave me pause. Happiness looks different to each of us based on our frame of reference. The first thing to consider, always, is what something means to you.
Happiness as well-being
When discussing the study of happiness with Douglas, the best way to describe the definition in general terms is the concept of well-being. More so, whole-person well-being, or whole-being, as coined by my CiHS Harvard professor, Tal Ben-Shahar.
In other words, happiness or well-being isn’t just one thing. It’s not only your physical, your mental, or your emotional well-being (to name a few); it’s everything in a symbiotic relationship with each other. There’s a constant balance in life for your well-being. We work on this every day. That’s why when something is unbalanced—say you pulled out your shoulder as I did recently—other things are in cloudy focus. If you were asked if you were happy when you were in pain, you may feel good overall, but that pain might be your focus.
Examining happiness universally across cultures and time, there is one thing that seems to be consistent. True happiness comes from a deep, personal connection with our life purpose.
Your life purpose
In other words, why are YOU here? What is YOUR unique purpose in life?
Many believe their purpose in life is to be a parent or commit to a passionate work role. While I think we play out our purpose that way (I certainly do in my work and my role as a mom), it is who we are uniquely at our core that gives our life meaning.
Who do you want to be? Kind? Loving? Empathetic? Are you pursuing your passions and giving away your gifts? Maybe you were born with a unique talent for music or communications. Are you using those in a way that has a positive ripple effect on the world? In essence, are you making the very best of your time here? Are you showing up in life as exactly who you want to be, knowing your life has meaning and purpose no matter how conscious you are of it?
Maybe our path to true happiness is recognizing how special we are and working every single day to share a little more of that person with the world.
Food for thought, my dear friends. To hear more on this topic and leave a legacy of YOU behind, listen to my inspirational interview with the Douglas Coleman Show.
Remember, you being here on this Earth, alive, TODAY is purposeful and meaningful. The more you appreciate yourself for who you indeed are, the bigger the positive imprint you will leave on this world. We need more of that. We need more of YOU.