“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
Why does meditation improve happiness for some and others can’t stand sitting still for five minutes? Or why some find it easier to enjoy the simple things in life, no matter what?
Call it our belief or approach, but we all view happiness through a particular lens that determines how much (and what kind of) happiness we seek and receive in the present moment; our happiness type. Most of us are unaware of our “happiness type”, but how we show up in our lives – or how happy we feel
The one thing we all have in common – regardless of our type is that most of us believe that happiness lives outside of us, so we end up chasing it in the “things” of life instead of cultivating it within. I started identifying the various “happiness types” after reading countless books, studying and interviewing people about how they view happiness in the hope that a greater understanding will lead us all to find more happiness.
Studies say that 50% of our happiness is based upon our genetic makeup, 10 to 20% on our environment and that remaining 30 to 40% can be the difference between genuine and fleeting happiness. The key to improved happiness begins with understanding the beliefs, views and attitudes we hold about happiness, so that we can consciously become choose new behaviors and actions that align with our long term goals.
Snow White. We all know the song. “Some day my prince will come
So many of us (myself included) put off being happy until Someday. The Snow White in all of us buys into the fallacies that if we do all of the right things, meet our handsome prince (or princess), get the right job, get the perfect body and settle into our “castle”, happiness will automatically follow. The problem for all of us Snow Whiter’s is that when we get all those things, happiness feels fleeting and maybe even a little disappointing – leading us only to keep seeking happiness in our next hurdle.
Veruca Salt. “I want it now!” Yeah, you know who you are. Happiness is something to be found in the moment, in action, in the people you are with, the food you are eating and the wine you are drinking. Veruca Salt is the pleasure seeker who doesn’t see the sense in putting off happiness and instead, lines up to be first in line for the adventure. And while Veruca may seem as if she’s in the moment, happiness is still something to be found in “doing”. Instead of being a state of mind that can be achieved, for all of us Veruca’s, happiness is still something that is outside of us and found only in life’s moments.
Eeyore. Although most of us don’t want to admit it, there is likely a little Eeyore in all of us. So many of us think that happiness belongs to others or we don’t even believe that happiness is possible or probable. We tend to stay stuck in our lives and approach changes that will make us happy with a “why bother” attitude. For the Eeyore type, happiness always feels elusive – like a mountain stands between us and the happiness we so desire.
Aunt Ginny. We all know an Aunt Ginny. She is always doing things for others. It makes her happy (she says) but, Ginny doesn’t really remember what makes her happy. She has spent years doing everything for everyone else that her own happiness feels like a distant memory. In many ways, doing things for others has been a way that Ginny doesn’t even have to deal with her own unhappiness. She keeps herself from even thinking about it by doing what she
The Former Quarterback. Stuck in the past, the former quarterback believes that his best days are over. Like Snow White, he finds his happiness in somewhere else – in events long gone by, in his former physique or in the stories of the good old days. Worn out and disappointed, the former quarterback can’t see how his life now or the future will ever be as glorious as his old football days. He often tries to re-create it or ends up hiding from the world in destructive ways. He can often relate to Eeyore and feels dejected in his efforts to find happiness in his life.
Buddha: Ah, Buddha. The ideal. If you are already here, you are one enlightened person (and I need to hang out with you). Although many of Buddha’s teachings can be seen as saying that suffering is at the root of all life, the reality is that
So, are you one type, a few?
We might even tend to be one type of happiness seeker at one point in our life, only to change with age or different life events.
And while we may like aspects of our happiness type (it’s good to want to help others, right?) we all want to begin to take the steps to develop Buddha’s internal happiness, so that when we have to deal with the “yuck” of life, we can feel stronger. We can know that whatever suffering or disappointment we face, that happiness is at our core.
This week, I invite you to explore your happiness type and ways that you search for happiness outside of yourself. Begin to take steps to bring more personal happiness into your world now. Take a daily walk, start a gratitude journal, find three positive things about yourself, spend time with friends or read a self-improvement book. No matter what your type, the little steps make a big difference.
Ready for more specific tips based on your happiness type? Schedule a fifteen-minute call with me or simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your happiness type and I will send you tips to help improve your happiness now!