This is something that comes up all the time.
What really makes us happy in life?
Is it our family, our career, our business, our purpose, our ‘why’, our giving or serving others?
Is it the money we make, is it the life we lead, is it the adventures we undertake, is it our hobbies and recreation activities, or is it the influence we have on others?
Is it our legacy that we leave behind?
These are all good questions as to what really makes us happy in life. And for each of us it is usually different or a mix of many. But it is so important to understand what it is that makes you want to live every day to the best of your ability.
In other words what makes you jump out of bed each day (besides the alarm clock).
And understand this, it can change over your lifetime.
What was important to your happiness when you were younger may not be what makes you happy as you reach the golden years. And will you want to be remembered for that passion?
So lets talk about some of the things that make us all happy and consider them individually.
1. Money, money, money.
Ah money, the root of all evils. Its been said that money does not make us happy, but it does go along way to making our life more enjoyable and comfortable. It is an enabler. It also allows us to pursue what we may really want in life, and therefore it can allow us to become happy.
To some people, it is a necessity for happiness, but unless you are King Midas, money is not the end all. Counting your money will give you some happiness in life. I have never met anyone yet who has said “I am so unhappy. I wish I had less money!”
“I’d like to live like a poor man – only with lots of money.” – Pablo Picasso
2. Your profession.
For many, your career or profession makes you happy. Knowing that you are a professional in some sense, gives you status and status may be important to you. That degree or professional designation after your name makes you feel worthwhile, educated, knowledgeable, respected. You feel that you have accomplished something in life, something that puts you on a higher pedestal to be adored.
You may have won related awards too! Being adored, recognized and appreciated makes you … happy! It’s obviously one of your love languages. You’ll be glad to know at your funeral your friends will be saying you were the best thingamajig ever!
“You should not confuse your career with your life.” – Dave Barry
3. Your family.
Of course, this only applies to those of us who have a family. A family can make us happy and can make us sad at the same time, too. But generally, family time does make most people happy. The time spent on watching our children grow, getting together and celebrating, having reunions, recalling the memories and events that have occurred throughout the years bring both sadness and happiness to our eyes.
So having a family and the closeness, commitment, dedication, pride and fulfillment that comes with it makes us indeed happy. We are focused on our family, and the things we do are to support our family.
“A family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” – Ogden Nash
4. Leaving a legacy.
This is one that applies to a lot of people, it’s what drives them to succeed. They want to leave a legacy so they are driven to build something that will remain behind, long after they are gone. It may be a business, like a thriving farm, that is visual and can be passed on from generation to generation.
It could be an invention that makes an impact. It may be an undertaking like climbing an unclimbed mountain, or cycling across the country, or participating as a professional or amateur in sport. Or it can involve serving your community or country in some way.
“Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.” – Stephen Covey
5. Living the life.
For a lot of people, lifestyle is what makes them happy. They don’t want the rat race, they don’t want the career, and they certainly don’t want the stress of responsibility. They want the freedom to do what they want, when they want to do it, and where they want to do it. And they are smart enough to figure out how to do that.
Some people think that these type of people are lazy, lack initiative, or have no vision. I disagree. They are focused, know what they want and are happy with their situation. And it does not mean that they are poor. They may be at various financial levels, and from all walks of life.
“Sorry the lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.”
6. Giving back.
We all have a giving nature in us. In some of us, it is very strong and in others it is very weak, but it is in all of us. So giving back can be the driver, whether it is serving our community or country, mentoring, educating, teaching, helping the less fortunate, researching, inventing, writing, speaking, motivating, developing, building etc.
We can find some element of giving back in almost everything we do. It is one reason why people join the military, the police force, the fire department, serve on civic councils or volunteer boards, run for office, help at schools after class, etc. They feel extremely happy about themselves when they give back in some way.
“We rise by helping others.” – Robert Ingersoll
I would argue that all of these ‘happiness’ elements are in our psyche, but knowing which one is the most important will give us clarity and purpose to our life. It will help us be happy and in the end, that is what life is all about!