The Greek philosopher Aristotle is attributed with the simple maxim, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Such an outlook is indeed necessary for there to be any purpose in reading further. To seek happiness, one must believe they have at least some control over their happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy?
Thomas Jefferson viewed happiness as one of mankind’s highest ideals, the pursuit of which he enshrined as a right in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Pursuit of happiness may be a right, but how does one go about it? The following three steps may not complete the journey, but they are three big steps in the right direction.
A healthy body is a happy body. Happiness is hard enough to achieve without being handicapped by depression. Feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration which vary in length and intensity are often brought on by stressful or unpleasant life events. Periods of depression are experienced by almost everyone; however, some people are genetically predisposed to bouts of depression which are more lengthy and severe. Depression is treatable, and treatment should be sought if depression is interfering with your enjoyment of life. Aside from depression, a healthy diet and regular exercise can go a long way towards lifting the mood. While exercise has recently been found not to be effective in treating depression, exercise does help alleviate stress and can contribute to a healthier appearance and a more active lifestyle, thus improving one’s self-esteem.
A successful person is a happy person. While this may not be true in every case (just look at Hollywood), being successful has its merits, even in achieving happiness. Napoleon Hill, author of bestselling self-improvement book, Think and Grow Rich, claimed most people had no goals and therefore, could not be successful. The goal does not have to be wealth. Set attainable goals and meet them. One secret to a fulfilling life is to feel a sense of accomplishment. Set small goals for finances, at work, and in relationships and work hard to meet those goals. Then set new goals. Reflect on the ever-growing list of achievements.
Learn from mistakes. Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.” Making mistakes is inevitable; the way to keep those mistakes from having a negative effect on one’s happiness is to treat them as learning experiences. Treating mistakes as learning experiences is not just about refusing to allow mistakes to bring down a positive attitude; one should dissect each mistake and learn what could have been done differently to bring about a more positive outcome. The lessons learned from mistakes can reward a person with substantial experience to become even better than they would have been had the mistakes never been made.
Getting healthy, setting attainable goals, and learning from mistakes are three seemingly small pieces of advice which could make all the difference. Be diligent in the pursuit of happiness, and when you find it, share it with others. Moods are contagious. Oscar Wilde explained it best, “Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go.”