Does anyone know where is Prince Charming and his pretty Princess? ….Can someone show the way to his castle? ……..Please do not tell me he doesn’t exist …I am definitely not waiting to see if he is still charming, but I want to ask him one important life lesson before it is too late….
How to live a happy and successful life ?
Most of us want to find a convincing answer for this…. there are countless number of books, motivational speakers, spiritual and corporate leaders to offer ideas to this question. (May be they found Prince Charming’s whereabouts?…)
But …… Is there a universal secret sauce recipe to guarantee happiness??? (Top 10 different aspects to lead a happy life) ….but … how can it be ‘one size fit all’??
What gives happiness to me, may not give the same feeling to someone else… Agreed? ..Shopping may bring happiness to some and living a minimalist life might bring happiness to others, some people enjoy being in a busy crowd and others may like nature and cherish solitude.
A classic quote, ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ is not true for all. There are homeless people who need money to fill their stomach for the day and you can see that satisfied happy smile. So, how can you have a common definition for happiness, and top of that, 10 standard ways to lead a happy life for all ??
Likewise, success is something we all naturally long for, again there is no common unit of measurement.
If someone believes ticking a series of boxes (Job title, Fancy Cars, Big homes, International Vacation) as successful, how oblivious their thoughts are? And every so-called successful person leads a happy life is a total misconception.
So, Happiness is a Myth ?
We try and relate to the best explanation we have heard about happiness. Assuming we understand the meaning but then we keep negotiating it based on time and convenience.
In fact, the definition of happiness/success is not a “settled” debate.
So, based on what we have heard and felt let us try and categorise it.
Joy, pleasure, excitement, pride, gratitude, contentment, optimism, enthusiasm, love and many more….you name it, is not all the same .
- Pleasure – A delicious meal, meeting with our friends, watching a favourite movie/song etc…All these produces a gush of endorphins, but relatively short lived. Similarly, happiness due to material objects, extremely transient. PLEASURE (Hedonism) is important and makes you feel good but this immediate gratification does not relate to sustained long term happiness. And these temporary desires will keep changing and one will never find satisfaction.
- Passion– profession or hobby, gives another level of happiness. Recently, when I moved out of my company, I got appreciation mails and thank you messages. It was rewarding for all the effort I had put during my working hours. But it is not enduring either, a small recognition at work could bring momentary happiness and can help gain self-confidence, but this ego gratification of winning could become an obsession leading to self-absorption.
- Sense of Purpose – Serving others, or being part of something bigger, gives a long-term satisfaction and deeper meaning to life. The base of this happiness is love, or on the human desire for connection, goodness, compassion, unity & friendship etc. The focus is on the wellbeing of others by creating a positive difference in the world.
- Perfect Happiness – It is not easy to explain this, finding a right balance between all types of happiness and involves a search for fullness & perfection. It is ultimate happiness connecting to the larger universe to experience some sort of transcendence. Some fulfil their desire through spirituality, philosophy or scientific endeavours to find answers for big questions of life, human existence and universe. This happiness is profound and long lasting.
But these classifications of Hedonism (pleasure) and Eudemonism (Meaning) is not new, it exists from Vedic period and in Aristotle’s ethics to modern day psychology.
For few more details about types of happiness, readers can view this website.
Though the above labelling does not define happiness but still indicates a range of fleeting positive emotions along with the deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Some people define happiness as “Subjective well-being” – which includes the momentary positive emotions and appraisal of life satisfaction (Quality of Life). If happiness is subjective and determined by Quality of life, then how is it measured…
How is the world happiness report measured?
By simply asking people to report how satisfied they feel with their own lives. How much positive and negative emotions they are experiencing right now. Any statistics on happiness is based on a Survey (subjective measurement) using different types of tools.
There are major factors considered for reports which contributes to higher quality of life – 1. GDP 2. Life Expectancy 3. Generosity 4. Social Support 5. Freedom 6. Corruption 7. Culture and may be more.
But I strongly believe these surveys are people’s state of mind, they are asked to rank themselves relative to where they live compared to other countries, making it sensitive to the knowledge of respondents. People in the west think everybody else has no food to eat.
Another major flaw in survey responses could be ‘appraisal of level of happiness‘ at the time of experience may be very different from appraisal via memory.
Does it make sense? My personal experience when I spent a vacation on a cruise: We faced many challenges due to food, weather, language etc and to top it all my son had acute wheeze attacks due to sea breeze. Now my memory recalls only wonderful time we spent in the Ship and different places we visited. So, if I had been surveyed ‘then and now’ my response won’t sync based on experience and memory.
Are you interested in knowing how biased the reports could be – try the link below.
This leaves a fuzzy concept about measuring happiness using a report, anyways that’s not what we want to explore today.
But based on our analysis so far, there is no one thumb rule to define nor measure happiness or success. It also means there is no one way to find what we are looking for.
Secret Sauce Recipe
Lets get back to fairy tale magic “And they lived happily ever after……”
We are all led to believe that happiness is a destination. It is portrayed as one that can be reached by making right choices, learning from mistakes, chasing the dream and keep pushing forward. When we finally find it, we’ll be forever satisfied in our lives, and so we live feeling overwhelmed.
“Happiness” is not a destination. It’s a state of mind, and you don’t need to be in it every moment of every day. Not only is that impossible, but the pursuit of chronic happiness is also unhealthy. ( Imagine how boring the life could be in a heaven ??)
How do you experience happiness if you don’t know sadness and pain?
Life is complex and uncertain. Ups and downs or loss and gain are very normal. These experiences will naturally shift our emotions between elation and dejection. But our problem is addiction possibly trying to sustain in the most favourable state.
In fact, Waxing and Waning of moon is the reason, full moon looks beautiful. It does not mean go in search of a sad state, so you will maximise your happiness. Remember recipe means right proportion of all ingredients.
Of all the definitions I read, this is the most interesting and packed with reality,
“Happiness is being able to ride the wave of every emotion that life throws at you, knowing that you can come out the other side just a little better than what you were before because you have the skills (focus, courage, curiosity), the resources (a positive mindset), and the support structure (a community) to make that happen.”
Contented People are the ones who has learned to adapt themselves and accept life as it is and appreciate it.
This mindset and behavioural shift help them lean into uncertainty and embrace emotions (positive or negative). But the most important of all, adapting to the environment with an intention and meaning.
Now the keyword “Intentional Adaptability”, plays a huge role in attaining the state of fulfilment.
Adaptability – Intentional, Unconscious or Forced?
Take the example of how we have adapted to living with Covid and lockdowns, because we’ve been forced to. In fact, I observed that we are best at adapting when change is imposed by external forces within our environment. Let us call forced adaptability or unconscious adaptability. That’s a great skill for surviving but it’s not ideal for thriving. We thrive through self-motivated, pro-active adaptation. It’s not a mindset of “just getting by” but pushing that reset button to accept and appreciate intentionally.
We certainly do not have control over everything that happens around us. Of course everything will have an impact on us. But we do have control over ourselves, the choices we make, acceptance thereby unlocking doors to numerous possibilities and potential.
For some people happiness is always an elusive goal, others seem to be gleamingly blissful despite of everything.
Now we know why? ingredients & perfect recipe……..in our hands