Happiness, specifically the question “what makes you happy?” is a theme that has been deliberated several times over the last few weeks in various medias I have read or listened too.
So what have I picked up from all the happiness chatter?
I was struck at how much significance was put on this question - “Happiness is intricately related to who we are.”
I was reminded of my favorite EE Cummings quote on this very topic. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” This quote, if taken candidly, takes on a new importance. Especially if we believe our values define us as a person.
It is important for people to understand what values are truly important to them. Without this knowledge you can’t really determine any priorities in your daily life.
My values determine my life priorities, and my core beliefs and ultimately how I want to live my life. My values are what gives me purpose.
Without set priorities you can’t truly be happy because you won’t have a verifiable purpose. This is what makes the discovery of “who you are” such a valuable gift.
However, there is a risk.
Defining your values and setting life priorities not only make you happy, they give you purpose in your day-to-day life. That to me is a key to true happiness. However, defining your values and ultimately what makes you happy can also lead to major life changes: maybe a new career; moving to a new city; or leaving an unhealthy relationship.
If you took EE Cummings quote to heart you would need to be cautious that when you look for what truly defines your state of happiness, because it could very well result in changes to significant parts of your present life.
Dr. Robert Holden, directs a Happiness project “Happiness Now” in England. It is an eight-week-program that enable participants to embark on a personal development journey to discover what happiness means to them. Happiness requires a lot of "self-attention," Dr. Holden says. "Happiness is a teacher that helps you learn more about who you are, more about what is really important in your life and what your life is really for.”
I think it is important to take stock in your values and your priorities on occasion: without comparing yourself to anyone else, and without caring what anyone else thinks of you; take stock of your life, and your values, and your true purpose.
You may be surprised what a wonderful life you have. And that is something to be truly happy about.
A French writer that goes by “Colette” (born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) says it best:
"What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner."