What is Happiness? Seven Things I Think to be True

This post was originally sent to my “Happiness Bulletin” email subscribers. Sign up here to receive that short email on life, living and happiness every Saturday morning.

Welcome to Saturday, and thank you for opening this week’s email.

Life took over a bit this week so I’ve been doing less reading and less exploring the thoughts of others. So instead this week’s email is straight from my own thoughts. [Some readers have offered me feedback that they would like a little more of my views, thoughts and experiences and a little less of the views, thoughts and experiences of others. So hopefully this week’s email is okay.]

  1. Happiness is (often unconsciously) the primary driver of every decision we make. Self-defeating behaviours are an attempt to place a balm on the suffering of the present. Even the most generous of us are driven at least in part by how good such generosity makes us feel.
  2. Happiness is both here and now, and lifelong. Go all-in on your happiness now and you place your lifelong happiness in peril. Over-invest in lifelong happiness and you risk misery here and now. Staying present here and now, and making progress towards a lifelong purpose is the best recipe for happiness.
  3. Now is all we really have. We should try our best to be mindful of the way the stories we tell about the past influence our present and to be aware that because the future will arrive, we must do as much as we possibly can at the present time to safeguard that future. So the past and the future have a major impact on now. But remembering as often as we can that now is all we really have, and to return our attention to now leaves us well placed to experience the true happiness of absolute peace of mind.
  4. The first step towards discovering our own happiness is self-knowledge. We cannot be happy until we truly know what influences our happiness. For each of us there is a unique recipe for our happiness. Our individuality is perhaps our greatest asset, and when we truly explore it, embrace it and express it, the world opens up to us. Living our life to the framework of somebody else’s recipe for happiness is almost a guarantee of unhappiness.
  5. The self and the ego are two different things. The self is our deepest truth and begs to be explored. The ego is a false second layer, one which tries to protect our true self from the suffering of shame and humiliation. Allowing our ego to influence our direction might insulate us in the short term but is sure to isolate us over the long term.
  6. The true happiness of individuals is a net gain for wider society. Happier people make better decisions for themselves and their families and lasting contributions to their communities and the world.
  7. Everything is medication. Not just medicine. Medicine explicitly triggers changes in the body through its active ingredients. But everything else we do triggers changes in the body too. The feelings of depression may well be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, but our brains and our entire bodies are an as yet unknown collection of molecules and chemicals. Everything we do influences those chemical equations. Something as small as drinking a glass of water or standing up and going outside changes the chemical structures of our bodies and brains. When we realise this we can be proactive about managing our feelings and emotions, rather than being a slave to them or seeing them as something that can only be changed by artificial means.

Thank you for reading “What is Happiness? Seven things I think to be true”. This post was originally sent to my “Happiness Bulletin” email subscribers. Sign up here to receive that short email on life, living and happiness every Saturday morning.