The 8 Keys to Happiness
Like many, my entire life I was fascinated with the idea of pursuing happiness. True, life is not easy, and we all have reasons to be upset and sad. But how come we agree to live unhappy life? Did we forget we have a choice? Besides, are we born to be happy?
The answer is yes. Happiness is the natural human state. Need evidence? look at children, unless a child is hungry or thirsty or tired, or needs attention, a child is happy for no reason at all. Children are not self-conscious. They are free to be happy because they are not yet aware of themselves. It is only when we mature and become more self-aware that we also become worried and have unfulfilled desires and unrealized dreams. None of us can honestly say we have it all, and we can always find reasons to be sad. But a child is looking at the glass half full, and isn’t bothered by what he/she is “missing,” so he/she does have it all. The child’s lack of self-consciousness leaves him/her free to enjoy life and be happy.
Many people spend a large amount of their time striving and praying for a lot of money, a fulfilling romantic relationship, a successful career, a beautiful house, a luxurious car, thinking these are the keys to happiness and peace of mind, only to find that once you get them, you keep wanting the next best thing. There is always the next best thing or a desire waiting to be fulfilled, with the hope that it will make you feel “happy”, an illusion dangling like a carrot just out of your reach. We all know people who seem to “have it all,” but don’t seem to be happy at all. How come?
There was once a wealthy boy, who went on a field trip with his father to explore how poor people live. So, they arrived to a farm of a very poor family, and were invited to stay over for a few days. On their return, the father asked his son, “Did you notice how poor people live?” “Yes, I did “- said the boy, “We have one dog, and they have three. In our backyard there is a pool, while they have an endless river. We’ve got expensive lanterns, but they have stars above their heads at night. We have a patio, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land, while they have endless fields. We buy food, but they grow it. We have high fence for protection of our property, and they have friends to protect them.” The father was stunned. He could not say a word. Then the boy added: “Thank you Dad for letting me see, how poor we are.”
This story shows that the true wealth as well as happiness is not measured by materials things. Love, friendship and freedom are far more valuable. People who are more satisfied with what they have, are happier overall.
A University of Northern British Columbia study in the 1980’s found that people who aspired to have more money, friends, career success, and health than others were less happy. Being content with what they had was linked to a higher level of satisfaction and happiness. The research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis. A person can encourage themselves to be happy with the power of positive thinking. Those who feel they deserve everything can never be satisfied. Those with no expectations, who feel they deserve nothing, that every breath is a gift- they carry an inner joy in all they do.
THE 8 KEYS TO HAPPINESS
- GIVE: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -Winston S. Churchill. If you want to feel good, do good to others.
- FORGIVE & FORGET: “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”- Thomas Szasz. Forgiving yourself and then the others, allows you to live more freely. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but acceptance.
- GRATITUDE: “Gratitude is the sweetest thing in a seeker’s life- in all human life. If there is gratitude in your heart, then there will be tremendous sweetness in your eyes”- Sri Chinmoy. “Modah Ani Lefanecha” express how grateful you are for the gift of life.
- SELF-CARE: “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”-Buddha
- DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS: “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blooms”- Zen Shin
- LEARN TO SAY NO: “It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs
- HAVE A PURPOSE IN LIFE: “The two most important days in life are the day you born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
- BE OPTIMISTIC: “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Buddha. Be always optimistic about life. If you choose to be happy, you will be happy; because happy people don’t have the best of everything, instead they choose to make the best of everything.
The noun Simchah, meaning happiness is mentioned in the Bible 94 times. Ethic of our Fathers (4:1) rabbinic teaching concerning simchah points to the inner self as the source of contentment and joy. “Aizehu ashir? Hasameach bechelko. Who is rich? He that rejoices in his own portion.
Are we willing to consider the possibility that maybe the path to happiness doesn’t really exist? Being happy, instead of looking for a path that might lead to happiness. I truly believe that there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way!