By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. — Seneca
Have you noticed how much talk, press, advice and media attention happiness is getting these days? If you google the word you will get thousands of hits and leads to follow if you want to learn more. You can even find articles and advice about the differences between joy, pleasure and happiness.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about happiness:
Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.
How fortunate we are to be the recipients of all this talk, research, and media attention on happiness. You can find lots of advice and ideas, including our contributions here on Mental Health & Happiness.
I encourage anyone who is interested in increasing your sense of mental and emotional well-being and positive, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment and intense joy to learn more as well as research and experiment more for your own happiness sake. Yes please, I want more of that too.
We here at Mental Health & Happiness invite you to go to a deeper level regarding your happiness. When you look for the positive, the good in each life experience and each person you meet, your level of satisfaction may increase, but only to a limited degree. If you’ve ever tried giving this kind of advice to a friend or relative who is suffering with severe depression you may have quickly discovered the short coming and potential offense of this idea. Simply focusing on the positive is not enough. Why?
Glasser, founder of Choice Theory psychology suggests that all human beings are born with five genetic instructions or basic needs. From birth to death, all that we do is an attempt to effectively meet our needs for safety, (survival,) love, power, fun, and freedom. Understanding and attending to these needs is what anchors or grounds your positive focus and habits resulting in deeper contentment and happiness.
When you connect your discovery of the positive or your gratitude with one or more of your basic needs you have a much greater sense of satisfaction and pleasure. As you read and learn of specific strategies to grow your Mental Health & Happiness become intentional about which of your needs is satisfied with each activity. At the end of the day if you realize you have satisfactorily met your need for power, but still are not feeling connected nor are having fun, you can choose an additional strategy to meet those needs. This leads to successful Mental Health & Happiness. Your happiness, joy, satisfaction and contentment is anchored and grounded in your basic genetic instructions and needs.
When you practice gratitude, getting enough rest, getting and giving a hug, generosity of spirit and laughter you will increase your Mental Health & Happiness. And when you connect these habits with your genetic instructions to be safe, loving, powerful, free and fun you anchor your happiness in the genetic instructions you were born with. Power, fun, freedom, love, and safety is the port we are always sailing to, including in our pursuit of happiness.