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There is a plethora of research being generated about happiness, and what makes people happy.  I find this topic to be hugely fascinating.  It's intriguing, as well, that the quest for happiness gets so much attention.  We want answers.  We want to know how others find happiness. We want to know how to be happy.

I struggled with writing this piece because somewhere in the recesses of my mind I have some negative associations with the idea of happiness. We shouldn't talk about wanting to be happy, right?  As spiritual people happiness is supposed to be at the bottom of our list of pursuits. At least that's what I've thought at times.  I really don't know for sure where these negative messages  came from, but I picked them up somewhere and I'm ready to officially shed them.

I'm openly admitting that I have desired happiness and have sought after it.   Here are some things that I have learned about being happy:

  • Happiness is within your reach.  
  • Happiness is a choice. 
  • No one else is responsible for your happiness (this has been a HUGE one for me)
  • I am responsible for my own happiness.
  • Happiness leads to a  healthier, more vibrant, more fully alive life.   
  • Happiness can be experienced even in the most difficult circumstances.
But how to be happy?  That can be more elusive.  There's mountains of material and research out there that you can read for yourself about that, but from my experience here is pretty much the essence of happiness:

Helping others.

Giving your life away.

Serving other people.

Society would say that to be happy we have to try to grab whatever we can get.  I would suggest the opposite is true.  Letting go of what we perceive to be our rights and thinking of others first will  lead towards the path of happiness.

Part of the note from my student
This past week I received a note from a student who, upon graduation, was expressing his gratitude for the ways in which he felt that I had helped him to achieve his goals.  His thoughtful words penetrated deep into my heart and I felt such happiness welling up within.  Happy to know that I had been helpful, that somehow I had made a difference in his life.

Jesus said, "If you give, you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over." (Luke 6).  If this principle is applied to happiness... giving happiness to others... clearly the promise is of much happiness coming back to you.

Wayne Dyer says it like this: "If you seek happiness for yourself, it will always elude you.  If you seek happiness for others, you will find it for yourself."  

Are you as happy as you would like to be?  If not, perhaps finding even small ways to help others might help move you towards being happier.  As my dear father used to say, "It couldn't hurt and it might help."

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