About six years ago, in the coziness of my den when our infant son was finally put to sleep, my husband and I watched a documentary that changed the course of our lives.

 

From the comfort of our newly decorated room, adjacent to our completely remodeled kitchen, in the first home we bought and owned, with our new car in the driveway, we realized none of it mattered.

 

The reason we chose to watch the documentary, Happy, was because we actively and consciously wanted to shape a happier existence for ourselves.

 

Although we had achieved what many would consider success and therefore, should be happy, we weren’t.

Sure, we had happy moments but didn’t feel a greater sense of happiness. We were often agitated, stressed, and somewhat depressed. It was almost embarrassing to admit.

 

What the hell did we have to complain about?

Our malaise was hard to deny, although, we did for a long time. Instead of choosing to accept things as they were or to ignore our longing for greater happiness, we set out to figure out what we could do.

We started reading more books. I tapped old sources of information from my wellness consulting days and we found this documentary to watch.

 

The mission of the film was to search the world for the secrets to happiness.

They talked with people from all walks of life, thought leaders, and research scientists to discover the magical formula for happiness and this is what they discovered.

It isn’t wealth or success or personal achievement. It doesn’t come from material possessions, career advancement, and attractiveness.

 

Happiness comes through these 3 ways:

  1. Personal development.
  2. Building relationships.
  3. Serving others.

 

Everything else is gravy.

Too much gravy and your meal is ruined. Just enough and it’s like being able to buy a new car you worked hard for through a job you love that feels purposeful.

When personal development, building relationships, and serving others are usurped by wealth accumulation, praise-seeking, and buying all the things, we end up unhappy with a lot of shit we don’t need.

But, when these 3 things are the focus of your life and you find ways to continuously cultivate them, you almost don’t need the gravy.

 

Here are my suggestions for achieving personal development, building relationships, and serving others in your life:

  1. Heal your wounds.
  2. Fill your well.
  3. Find your purpose.
  4. Connect and make friends.
  5. Share joys and sorrows.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Share your gifts.
  8. Volunteer some of your time.
  9. Help those in need.

 

In my next few posts, I’ll cover each of these more in depth.

 

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what makes you truly happy. Are you doing enough of those things? Are the things that take up the majority of your life and time, harbingers of happiness for you?

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