When I recently did a search for “Keys to Happiness” on Google, there were over 54 million results. Wow! That’s a lot of keys to happiness. And although any key to happiness is probably a good key, 54 million keys can feel quite overwhelming. In The Get To Principle, I share four keys that I find are most fitting in finding happiness. In this blog, I’m going to focus on the first one: Having purpose.
As I’ve contemplated and looked at my life over the years, I’ve realized that I feel happiest when I’m just being me. When I’m not searching for something or trying to do anything or be anything that I’m not right now. My purpose: Just be me.
Once I’ve found a sense of happiness in that feeling, I’ve also found that when I am doing something positive - with a direction, with a goal - I also feel happy. It’s like a secondary purpose. Be, and then do. When I’m pursuing a goal such as studying Japanese, playing my guitar, or playing with my kids, I feel alive and happy.
It starts within yourself, reflecting on what you, as a being on this planet, are wanting to achieve, to experience, to feel. Sit for a moment and think, “What do I want in this life?” For many, if not most people, one purpose is simply having peace of mind and happiness. I love that and have it as one of my top goals in life. For others, their purpose might be to raise children to be successful adults. Or maybe it’s to create a lot of money and things. (In my experience, material wealth doesn’t usually bring happiness, but if that’s a purpose for you, go for it. I’ve met some pretty miserable rich people, but I’ve also met some really happy rich people as well.)
Regardless of your secondary purpose (and we can have many), it is important to keep in mind the following definition of life:
“The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
Continual change. Life is full of ups and downs, struggles and joys, sun and rain, tears and laughter. Change is life. The expectation that, poof, you have peace of mind and happiness, your children won’t get sick, or that your stocks will keep going up and up, and you’ll live happily ever after is, I believe, the biggest hindrance to getting happy. Acknowledging that bad things happen, and that you are going to have good days and bad days, is a way of helping you stay on purpose.
For example, along with being happy, one of my purposes is raising healthy, well-rounded children. I have two teenagers. For the most part, this goal feels fantastic and on point. But, needless to say, there are times when it doesn’t feel so good, where my parenting is not up to par or, in their exploration of life, their choices aren’t the best. But remembering that this is all part of change, part of the flow of life, keeps me on the path of happiness.
The question is always, what do you want to experience and who do you want to be during this lifetime? Start with just being you. I take my own advice often, referring to The Waking Up meditation app by Sam Harris. He has a way of having you point your finger back at yourself and realizing there’s no one there to be pointed at. You are just you. Everything is just arising in consciousness, including all of your thoughts. You are just you. It’s pretty fantastic.
From there, having goals is a great way of enhancing that happiness. Recognizing that it comes with all the other stuff, too, is paramount to actually experiencing it. Accepting it all, the good and the bad, keeps you on track to staying on purpose: Being you. And in the end, being happy.
-Ted Larkins, author of The Get To Principle
For more on living a life full of joy, check out The Get To Principle>>