Alex Shalman has designed an interesting project which he has designated the Happiness Project. It began with a series of interviews with thirty four individuals and has extended its realm to include a number of bloggers and writers who answer five questions pertaining to happiness on their blogs.
First of all, please realize that happiness is not the same as joy. There is a fundamental difference. Happiness is temporary, often dependent upon current conditions. It is emotional, a state of mind, one that often changes like the wind. Joy is much deeper, usually not dependent upon current states or material items. It has more to do with our sense of peace and personal value. It is definitely more spiritual.
I believe that as a society, we are losing our sense of joy as we are focusing more upon economic conditions, worrying about everything and losing out on life's many blessings. The horrifying levels of prescription drugs written for depression, anxiety and gastric problems testify to this condition. We are losing our sense of God-given peace, not by anything a loving Creator has taken away, rather by our poor choices and their subsequent consequences. Our happiness has become so incredibly dependent upon material things. The satisfaction gained by them does not last, always leaving us wanting more.
The five questions:
1. How do you define happiness?
Please see the text above.
2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
As children, we see the world through eyes of wonder. We are secure and do not worry. We experience love from our parents and immediate family. We play. We smile. We laugh. We are innocent. As we grow into adolescence and adulthood we tend to lose these things, replacing them with negative emotions and cynicism. Like many of you, I was likely a 9 or 10 on the 10 scale as a child, but vary between 4-8 now as an adult.
3. What do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? (and how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day?)
Experiencing a reflective and prayerful quiet time in the morning, enjoying every minute of time spent with my daughter, enjoying a sense of accomplishment, daily business successes, daily exercise and taking time to be thankful all contribute to my happiness each day. That feeling is fairly consistent because I know and am aware of those things that bring me happiness and I position myself to enjoy them daily. When disappointments come, I merely focus on the the rest of the day and plan how to convert the disappointing items into successes.
4. What things take away from your happiness? What can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
In general, as Forrest Gump first expressed, "s**t happens." I simply refuse to let it ruin my day. Down deep, I have joy. The fleeting circumstances, though often painful and uncomfortable, are indeed temporary. I refuse to wallow in them or let them defeat me.
5. What do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
I have learned many lessons in life. I have learned that my sense of value and joy cannot be rocked by things that may or may not bring me happiness. My happiness will come from accomplishing my goals and enjoying the journey towards their achievement. I will make an effort to notice and participate in more of the "little things" in life that make a big difference. Giving, a great example, is a wonderful way of receiving. Whether it is a simple smile, a courtesy, encouragement, money, time or whatever... you will alway "out-receive" whatever you give.
Someone once told me a physiological truth; when you genuinely smile or laugh, for that brief moment anyway, you cannot simultaneously feel down or depressed. Try it.