Let’s find out more about the root of happiness.
Everyone likes to live a happy life, filled with purpose, doing what you love, and surrounded by people you care about. Happiness seems to be straightforward at the first glance, but almost everybody becomes stuck at some point in their life, feeling lost and out of purpose, feeling miserable, and searching so desperately for happiness. So, what really is the basis of happiness or the root of happiness and how do we find our happy selves again when life throws us lemons?
Because I’m Happy – Happy Moments – Root of Happiness
Think about those times that you genuinely felt happy. How were they like? Was it when you reunited with your family/partner/friends during the pandemic? Maybe having completed all the requirements for your graduation? Was it when you were able to impact someone’s life, help someone in need? Was it when you could do something you were so passionate about? Face your fears and overcome them? Your wedding? The birth of your child?
Broadly speaking, we tend to be genuinely happy when in moments that make us feel like there is something to look forward to, or that they fill us with overwhelming gratitude. Moments that show us that we have a purpose in life, that our life has meaning.
Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher said:
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim, and end of human existence”.
Ultimately, living a purposeful life with meaningful events to look forward to and people you love surrounding you creates a by-product that we call happiness. Again, this seems easy to understand, but discovering how you can reach your roots of happiness is a task in itself that needs work.
So, how do we seek meaning and purpose in our life, the roots of happiness? In other words, what makes our life meaningful and purposeful?
Relationships & The Importance of Social Connection
Once upon a time, back in 1938, during The Great Depression, a bunch of scientists decided to follow 268 Harvard sophomores in a longitudinal study that was to give them clues about how to live a happy life. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies to date, found tremendous answers to our quest of “how to be happy” or finding the roots to true happiness. The most notable finding: the key ingredient for happy and healthy lives was having good relationships. Period. Not money, fame, or working really hard at your job, but meaningful relationships.
In his TEDx talk, the current director of this study Dr. Robert Waldinger highlighted the importance of social connection and how loneliness can actually kill. People who are overly lonely tend to be less happy and healthy than those who are more connected to friends, family, and their community. It’s not just about the number of friends that you have, but more about the quality of those relationships; how meaningful they are to you. It’s not about having the perfect relationships, cause well perfect is fantasy. Even amidst the tough times in relationships, having strong faith in one another determines its quality and that it isn’t just a toxic, meaningless commitment.
So, for a happy life, you have to put in the effort to strengthen the relationships that matter to you, as those are significant roots to your happiness. Spend quality time with your loved ones. Manage your work-life balance. Prioritize better.
We think we know ourselves. I mean, who else knows us better than our own selves? But, the question is, how well do we know ourselves?
We do take self-proclaimed moments of “me-time” but what proportion of this time is really spent on knowing yourself at a deeper level? When was the last time you asked yourself questions like “what do I really want (not biased by societal expectations)?”, “what makes my heart sing (what are my passions)?”, “what are my values?”, “are my actions in congruence with my values?”
Asking yourself what you really want is very important to create a purposeful and happy life. You need to live your life according to your own terms and not that of the society. True, job security & money, are all necessary, but it’s very, very difficult to live a happy life when you don’t eventually do what you really want to do. Maybe a 9-5 job with security and good cash makes you happy, maybe it does not. Maybe you prefer taking calculated risks and living off your passion as a freelance dancer.
You need to ask yourself where you stand. This is where you explore what makes your heart sing. Are you truly happy doing what you do now? Is that your passion? Does it make your heart sing? If you answered no to all three of these questions, you really need to delve deep into knowing yourself and what you love!
“what are my values?”, “are my actions in congruence with my values?”
Your values are principles that mean a lot to you. They guide you to make choices that allow you to live a life filled with purpose and one where you are your truest self. Some values are close to you, like attaining peace of mind, being humble, and prioritizing your health. Other values can be more selfless, for example, being nice to a stranger (after assessing stranger danger possibilities of course), making someone feel included, or serving others.
You feel very happy when your actions are in line with your values: if you love helping someone in need, engaging in charity work can be so fulfilling and meaningful.
Checking in with what your values are and whether your actions are in congruence with them is a very important root to living a happy life.
Good Life & Key Ingredients For Root of Happiness
Happiness is not stable, it comes and goes. What we can hold onto when happiness is not around (or even when it is around), are the roots of happiness: Meaning and Purpose. Seek ways to fill your life with purpose and meaning. Be it by:
- cultivating good relationships
- cultivating mindfulness towards gratitude and appreciation
- doing something kind for others
- discovering yourself
- following your dreams & values.