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Get Serious About Being Happy
“…there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” — Ecclesiastes 3:12
What would make you happier? I know, I know. It’s a vague question, but think about it. What is within your control that would genuinely add to your level of happiness? Whatever it is, this week, I challenge you to do it. Why? Because happiness can literally prolong your life.
Amazingly, the effect of unhappiness on longevity is comparable to that of smoking, according to a recent analysis of 30 scientific studies on happiness. As a society, we all know by now that smoking is dangerous for your health, but have you ever considered that being unhappy could have health consequences? It’s time to take your happiness seriously!
For years, I thought of being happy as a fleeting pursuit—a temporary state of being. Spiritually speaking, I believed a more noble aim was to have joy and be content no matter my circumstances. Of course, those are important, too. But several years ago, I ran across this scripture written by the very wise King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes:
“There is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).
In other words, be happy in the everyday activities of life. Find satisfaction in your work. Help others. It is a divine gift to be happy when life is a routine. Abraham Lincoln once noted that, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” If he was right, then happiness is a choice—an approach and an attitude that we choose to carry into our work, our relationships, and our lives.
As I listened to a presentation about happiness recently, given by noted sociologist Dr. Ruut Veenhoven, I was intrigued by his classification of four qualities of life that comprise overall happiness and well-being. Consider them (paraphrased below with my definitions and coaching questions) to help you determine the areas of your life in which you may have room to enhance your happiness and well-being:
1. Livability -- “Livability” is about the environments in which you live, work and play. Does your environment nurture you or drain you? Do the circumstances in which you find yourself empower you to thrive or to merely survive? What would create a more livable and happier environment for you?
2. Life Abilities -- Life abilities are your personal strengths, knowledge, preparation, flexibility and potential. They can be developed, explored and improved upon. Greater personal abilities often create more enjoyable opportunities. What talents and strengths are going underutilized in your life? What potential is going untapped?
3. Meaning -- How is someone’s life better because they cross your path? We find the greatest meaning in life when we live the purpose for which we were divinely created. And that purpose must be good for something or someone more than you. This element of happiness is about serving, helping, and making a difference.
4. Satisfaction -- This is about your overall satisfaction with your life. Are you content with where you are? If not, what shift is it time to make? Dissatisfaction can be a catalyst for change, as long as you are honest about where you are dissatisfied. What aspects of your life bring you joy? My challenge to you this week:
Get serious about being happy! Choose a joyful attitude. Do something that brings a smile to your face—or to someone else’s.
What would make you happier? How could you experience more happiness in the everyday activities of your life? Consider the four qualities of life: livability, life abilities, meaning and satisfaction. In which area(s) do you feel fulfilled? In which area(s) do you see room to grow?
Taken from Rich Minds, Rich Rewards E-Newsletter. Written and distributed by Inspire, Inc. Copyright (c) 2007 Valorie Burton. All rights reserved. Used with permission. www.valorieburton.com.
Valorie Burton, a life coach and speaker, is the author of Listen to Your Life, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, What's Really Holding You Back?, and her latest, Why Not You?.