You may have heard people say that money is not the secret to happiness. Well, if money is not the secret to happiness, then what is. We live in a society that is obsessed with being happy. We are constantly surrounded by happy smiling faces on TV telling us their version of happiness. If we go by what we see on social media, we might believe that we live in a very happy world. Everyone is posting how great and wonderful their life is, happy smiling faces and everyone else liking those posts and showing more happy emojis. No one truly knows, though what is truly going on in anyone else’s life.
What then is the definition of happiness? According to dictionary.com, happiness is the state of being happy. Well, that’s a very simple definition that doesn’t give us any insights on what causes people to be happy. A more apt description of happiness is from vocabulary.com which states that happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. Happiness is a relative term. It is also very personal and can mean different things to different people. When we think of happiness, some of us might imagine material items, such as fancy cars, new homes, the latest gadgets or trendy fashion clothing. Others might think of more abstract and altruistic things or look within themselves to find happiness. Everybody seems to have a different notion and understanding of what it means to be happy. Everyone seeks happiness in their lives, but not everyone succeeds in being happy. Some people go to great lengths and spend their entire life in the pursuit of happiness, but they still don't find it.
We live in a world where material things come easy. If we want something, we can buy it with just a few clicks, without thinking: Why am I buying this? Do I need this? Will this item provide any real use of sorts or will it lie in my garage for the next ten years? Is there someone else out there who needs it more than I do? Some people live out their happiness through others, whether it’s holding off on every episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians till the season is over so they can binge-watch every episode or monitoring YouTube every twenty minutes to try to be the first view on PewDiePie’s video. But the happiness I will be talking about today is not superficial happiness, it is true happiness that leaves a bright mark in your day and something that will stay with you for a long time. So, what is the secret to that happiness?
Let’s look at some ways we can stay happy in our daily lives. Smiling! Yeah, that may sound simple, but it is one of the most impactful ways of being and staying happy. Being able to offer a sunny disposition to the people around you, regardless of your inner state, actually encourages you to feel better. Smiles are contagious and if we can find the energy to offer our smile to others, even when we are not in a good state of mind, we are going to feel better when our smile is returned (Degges-White, Suzanne). In addition to smiling at someone, seeing someone offer you a genuine smile is emotionally and mentally healing.
Be near your loved ones. These are the people you love the most and who have a real meaning in your life. They could be family, close friends or even people at work. When you close your eyes and think of your loved ones a smile comes on your face. Our parents may shout at us for a bad grade or a dirty room, but they unconditionally love us. In a survey undertaken last year by Barna Research, sixty two percent of Americans said family is the central thing that makes up their identity. Family beat out being an American, religious faith, and career (Priest, Jim).
Drink more water. Yes, you heard me right. To be happy, you have to drink more water. People who drink the recommended amount of water daily are three times more likely to feel very happy, according to new research. A OnePoll study of two thousand Americans found that sixty seven percent of participants who said they drank “more than enough” water described themselves as “very happy,” compared to twenty one percent who admitted to not consuming enough water and were less likely to be “very happy” (Schnitzer, Kyle). We should aim to drink eight eight ounce glasses or sixty four ounces of water to be happy in our day to day lives.
Take a positive approach to life and get rid of negative emotions. Positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, inspiration and contentment help us think of the positive things in life and shield us from stress and anxiety. Sure life has its ups and downs and it is not possible to be upbeat all the time, but trying to think the glass is half full will help us focus on the positive aspects of a situation and make us happy.
Exercising and taking care of our mind and body is key to our happiness. By exercising regularly, we feel good about ourselves, we have more energy and we can accomplish more in life. It can improve our mood and lift us from any depressing situation. We don’t have to go to extreme lengths or run marathons to stay fit. We can do simple things like taking a brisk walk for thirty minutes every day or getting on a treadmill or going for a hike or jog to stay healthy and happy.
Being ambitious and having a purpose in life also makes us happy. Setting goals and priorities for ourselves. Working towards those objectives gives us something to look forward to every day. If we didn’t have any goals, we would just be passing through life and that would be very depressing. Many people push out their retirement as far out as possible not only because they love what they do, but also to make sure that they have a purpose in life and don’t get depressed.
Learning new things makes us happy. By learning, I don’t mean just formal education. Learning can take many forms. Joining a club, playing a new sport, learning a new language, reading a book, doing a new activity or learning a new skill could keep us busy, engaged, boost our confidence and make us happy.
Acceptance of ourselves and others is also a key to happiness. No one is perfect in this world. We all have flaws and shortcomings, but overlooking them and looking for the positive in people goes a long way towards our goal of being happy. A lot of people find flaws in themselves, whether it is the way they look, or the way they talk or the way they conduct themselves. That leads to stress, anxiety and negative emotions. By being comfortable in our skin, being accepting of our shortcomings and those around us will help us look for the positive in people and bring a smile on our face.
Giving and caring about others have a lot of power in making us happy. Giving can take on many shapes and forms. It could be giving of our time, ideas and resources. Helping a poor person get their next meal is giving. Helping someone who is struggling with their homework is giving. The key to giving is not bragging about it. The more low key the giving is, the better it makes you and the person at the receiving end feel. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. So if you want to feel good, do good!
By doing these things, you can attain true happiness in life. You can be happy and make people around you happy. I would like to end my speech with the following simple yet profound quote from Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”