Sunday, November 05, 2006

What it takes to be happy

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
- Mohandas K. ("The Mahatma") Gandhi

Far be it for me to disagree with Mr. Gandhi, but I would say those conditions would produce more satisfaction and contentment with life than happiness.

Happiness--though elusive to find because it's not something we can "discover"--involves more than just having the whole package together and coherent. It's necessary for a happy person to know that he or she is on the right track for life, that what they are doing is right and good.

Does that mean that a person whose life is lead in a haphazard manner can't be happy, or that a person who does bad things can't be happy?

Happiness can be whatever you define it to be. You can define your lifestyle in such a way that you can say that you are happy. It may allow you to be as happy as you can be.

Oddly, many people don't do that. The more material possessions people have and the more financial security they have locked down, the more they are apt to say that they are not yet as happy as they would like to be.

Who are the happiest people in the world? Within the past couple of years a United Nations study announced that Nigerians were, as a people, the happiest. This despite poverty, sectarian strife and tribal animosities in the oil-rich African nation.

The people of Nigeria aren't all happy, of course. They just rate themselves, individually, as happier than people of any other country.

What they think, say and do may be in harmony, but there must be more to their happiness than that. They think happiness. They act happiness. They believe in happiness. They teach happiness as a way of life to their children. They value the happy times of their lives.

All bad times end. People in many parts of the world are conditioned to think "times are bad" even when they are at their best. To them, times are never good. Except in the past, when they were nearly perfect.

If by remembering the good times of the past makes us happy about them, then we should focus more on the good things that are happening in our lives today than we do on the bad things.

Empower your good feelings by giving them more attention.

Bad stuff happens, but we don't have to dwell on it and make it a central part of our lives.

Good stuff happens too. Tag, you're it! Pass it on!

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show you the good times of your life.
Learn more at

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