The only question that matters – what will make you happy

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The only question that matters – what will make you happy

By finding your answer to the question ‘what will make you happy?’ could go a long way to making life so much better for you.

Are you someone who in recent days has sat at home with your mind seemingly racing all over the place but always coming back to the one question you’ve asked a million times before but never seem to find your answer . The one answer that would change everything. Make everything right. Make you happy.

What do I need to do to make my life a success?

“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.”  Nancy Willard

Always searching for that one answer that holds the key to happiness and contentment. Yet always coming up short.

Steve Jobs asked himself one question every day ‘If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?’

Your last 24 hours, the things you’ve done, do these make you happy. Are you maybe doing the right things that will spark your life into action, taking you ultimately to the place you want to be.

The first week of January has now past.

“What have you done with this first week, how well have you used your time?”

This is a good question to ask yourself.

One of the questions I ask my coaching clients is

If tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would bring you most happiness about the life you’ve lived?

How much TV you’ve watched. Of course not.

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. What does it take to be a happy person? Obviously the answer is going to be different for each person, but what worries me is that, as far as I can tell, most people don’t even ask – and those that do don’t have a very good answer.

You ask yourself ‘what’s going to make you successful’ or ‘what do I need to do to make money’ but truthfully the only question that matters is what will make you happy.

What does happiness mean?

Happiness is something everyone wants to have. You may be successful and have a lot of money, but without happiness it will be meaningless.

Let me start with an official definition. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, here is the definition of happiness:

a state of well-being and contentment

a pleasurable or satisfying experience

This definition is a good starting point but there’s more to it than those words capture.

Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation. William H. Sheldon

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling. Margaret Lee Runbeck

I love these quotes but it still isn’t conjuring up in your mind your answer, to what is going to make you truly happy.

Many people believe that happiness is getting drunk, eating chocolate and lots of it, playing golf, having sex or enjoying a great meal out. Yet in truth none of these are genuine happiness, they’re simply pleasures. Pleasures just bring us fleeting moments of joy.

The best explaination of what real happiness is that I’ve seen is offered by Martin Seligman author of Authentic Happiness who says happiness has three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

  1. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness.
  2. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies.
  3. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose.

Picking up on number 3, In his book Seligman outlines 24 strengths and breaks them down into virtue clusters:

1. curiosity-interest in the world
2. love of learning
3. judgment/critical thinking/open-mindedness/thinking things through
4. ingenuity/originality/practical intelligence/street smarts
5. social intelligence/personal intelligence/emotional intelligence
6. perspective-others seek you out to draw on your experience to help them solve problems and gain perspective
II. Courage
7. Valor and bravery-you don’t shrink from threat, challenge, pain or difficulty-take tough stands when necessary
8. Perseverance/industry/diligence-you finish what you start, do what you say you’ll do. Flexible, realistic.
9. Integrity/genuineness/honesty-honest, authentic, down to earth.

III. Humanity and Love
10. kindness and generosity
11. loving and allow yourself to be loved

IV. Justice
12. citizenship/duty/teamwork/loyalty
13. fairness and equity
14. leadership

V. Temperance
15. self-control
16. prudence/discretion/caution-you don’t say or do things you might regret. Far sighted and deliberative.
17. Humility-don’t seek the spotlight, unpretentious

VI. Transcendence-these reach outside and beyond you to connect to something larger.
18. appreciation of beauty and excellence
19. gratitude
20. hope/optimism/future mindedness
21. spirituality/sense of purpose/faith/religiousness-strong and coherent beliefs about a higher purpose and meaning in the universe.
22. Forgiveness and mercy-forgive those who have hurt you. Mercy not revenge.
23. Playfulness and humor
24. Zest/passion/enthusiasm

Seligman believes that using your signature strengths-which are the top 5 of the 24 listed-as frequently as you can, will lead to authentic happiness.

Should you be focused on today or tomorrow? Savor the present but don’t forget your future.  Life is a balance of knowing when to enjoy the moment vs. when to plant seeds for tomorrow’s harvest.

Out of the 24 strengths above which 5 would you choose to live your life by? If you succeed in doing so, do you imagine your life will be truly happy?

I’d love to receive your comments, and even more hearing in the future of how implementing what I’ve mentioned helps to change your life.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
One comment
  1. Scott Jasper says:

    I really like Martin Seligman’s work and I appreciate the quote that sometimes questions are more important than the answers.

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