50 Ways to Define True Happiness
Fifty Friends Donate Their Happiness Definitions
from Powered by Happy
by Beth Thomas
I recently polled fifty friends and family members and asked them to share their definitions of true happiness:
- Being with family—that could make me happy even if we didn’t have a dime
- Making six figures by the time I am forty
- Starting my own business, making it successful, and then selling it—preferably to a company like Microsoft or Yahoo!
- Knowing I run a successful business that contributes to the happiness of my employees
- Living with my illness without bitterness and only gratitude
- The intangible feelings of deep faith, unconditional love, and a sense of accomplishment
- Good health—that’s all I need to be happy
- Being at peace with myself
- Knowing I made a difference with my life
- Happiness is balance, love, family, friends, and challenge
- Helping my kids lead productive lives and contributing to society
- Hearing my kids laugh, having a great marriage
- A cool breeze on a summer night, the moon shining through the pines, and stars in the sky
If you’re reading this book, then you know that those of us with careers sometimes spend more time at work than we do with the ones we love. We spend more time doing our work than doing the things we love most. For this reason, your definition of happiness should include how you will be happy at work. Knowing exactly what happiness means to you—not to your boss, your co-worker, your client, or anyone else (even those outside the workplace)—is like discovering the arrow on a compass. Suddenly, you’ll become aware of the direction you really need to go.
I’m always surprised by how many people can’t define happiness for themselves. Or how many of them define happiness in terms of possessions, material things, or things that are unrealistic or outside their reach. I’m all for dreams, but when you dream the impossible, you are likely to be disappointed. When creating my career goals, I took it one step at a time. I didn’t expect to be a CEO right out of college. When defining happiness for yourself, remember this: keep it real, keep it meaningful, and keep it about yourself.
Sadly, I even talk to people whose happiness, especially at work, is obviously being defined by someone else. They feel bogged down by the need to please a demanding boss, to placate a meddlesome co-worker, or to pacify a temperamental client. There’s no denying that showing loyalty to your employer, or loving and giving to others unconditionally can be deeply satisfying. But someone else’s happiness is rarely the secret to yours.
“I just want my kids to be happy so I can be happy,” a colleague told me recently. But this is also someone who is constantly exhausted by the effort it takes to satisfy her children’s many demands. Is she really experiencing true happiness? I doubt it. She, like many of us, needs a whole new definition of the term.
Of course, defining happiness doesn’t make you happy, but it’s an important step toward achieving what can bring true meaning to your life—and true satisfaction at work.
But have you looked around at work lately? What do you see written on the faces of your colleagues, your boss, or even your own team? I’d venture to say you’re seeing a lot of furrowed brows and frowns. Let’s back up and take a look at how they got there to begin with.