Is happiness just a matter of “being” as Tolstoy suggests?
We are all free to pursue happiness, as is guaranteed in the constitution of the USA, but really, what does it mean to pursue happiness? It can’t be that complicated – it sounds so simple! Well, I think it is pretty simple! Then why do so many of us have so much trouble with finding it? Happiness is not something that’s “out there,” but rather it’s something that we find inside of ourselves. We have to create the conditions for our happiness to flower. Each of us creates his own happiness.
This is a personal blog, so I’m going to get personal and tell you some of the conditions for my own sense of being happy.
I feel happy when I’m doing the things I love to do. For example, I have a passion for landscape photography. I love to find and photograph a variety of landscape scenes, sometimes landscapes that are majestic, sometimes landscapes that are quiet and serene. There is a feeling that each landscape holds for me. Finding the right place, the right light, and the right frame to put around it makes me feel happy because I know I can convert that scene into a beautiful work of art. It’s magical. And then, whenever I look at that finished photograph, I am brought back to the exhilaration that I felt when I was actually there, absorbing the sense of actually being in the moment.
I feel happy when I get in touch with a sense of gratefulness for the things that I have. I have many blessings in my life. I am blessed to have a wonderful home with beautiful views of a rock garden and a fenced-in yard where my standard poodles play with each other, and I can sit by the window and watch them express their enthusiasm and love for each other. Yes, they occasionally growl at each other, but for the most part they are gentle and loving creatures.
I feel happy when I can get in touch with a sense of optimism about my life. I need to know that there are good things coming into my life in the future. So I visualize the things that I am looking forward to, such as continuing in my Coaching work which I am passionate about. Also, I look forward to taking “photography vacations” which enable another passion of mine. (I have a trip to Yellowstone National Park coming up pretty soon, and I am quite excited and happy about that!) And then there are the simple things that I look forward to, such as spending time at home with my family, which although it is sometimes a matter of the routine of day-to-day life really offers me a sense of security and being loved.
I feel happy when I know that I am using my strengths, to be loving, giving, nurturing, creative, a good friend, a good person, and the list goes on…. I advise other people to meditate upon and to journal about the things that make them happy. It’s important to start with knowing my strengths, and then making these work for me every day.
I feel happy when I am doing for others. Being kind to strangers, as they say. But also being kind to the people I care about, and to my dogs of course! It’s impossible to be acting kindly toward another person or a dog and experiencing bad feelings. So I consider the acts of kindness that I can express as a way of finding happiness in almost any situation.
So I encourage everyone to explore within themselves where their true happiness lies, and how to express it in the world.
Now, having said all of that, I should also talk about unhappiness and how that works for me, but I’ll leave that for a future blog.
I was trained as a psychotherapist in California, and I have had over thirty years of experience in helping people through therapy and coaching. I hold a Ph.D. degree in psychology, and I have dedicated the focus of my work to the practice of Life Coaching.