Happiness: The Elements of Happiness

The goal of life is to achieve happiness. I believe most people would agree with this hypothesis. However, to live in a state of happiness there are some elements that have to be fulfilled and some life disciplines that must be practiced in order to achieve it.

Happiness is like everything else in life. Nothing is created and lasts forever. Everything, even happiness has to be maintained. The idea of "living happily ever after" is really a misleading statement because in order to be happy you have to do happy.

What are the elements of happiness?

I think that famous hierarchy of needs comes into play when discussing happiness.

The basic fundamental and physical needs a human has to be able to be happy.

  1. Safety:
    1. When you are in a state of fear, you cannot be happy.
    2. When you are living in a diseased area you cannot be happy.
    3. If you are unclean and don't have access to water to wash yourself or your clothes you are unhappy.
  2. Pain:
    1. When you are in pain, happiness is very difficult to find. 
    2. Physical pain like illness or injury
    3. Emotional pain like loss of a loved one
    4. Relationship problems
    5. Social pain, not feeling like a part of society. Being separated from society, outcast or persecuted.
  3.  Hunger: 
    1. When you are starving happiness is difficult. 
    2. When you don't know where you are going to get your next meal it is hard to feel happy
    3. Thirst for clean water is a part of this. 
  4. Shelter: 
    1. When you don't have a roof over your head or a comfortable place to rest, you can't be happy. 
    2. When you can't escape the elements you feel weak and disempowered. 
  5. Clothing:
    1. When your clothes are dirty, tattered and don't fit you feel out of place in your own skin. You feel ugly. You can't be happy. 
    2. When your clothes can't defend you from the elements then you feel vulnerable in nature and in life. 
    3. Clothing is our first level of self defense. 

Now, if you are a buddhist priest, maybe you can overcome the above, and indeed, the practice of meditation and mental conditioning are a part of being happy, but people who have a lack of the above, will have a difficult time finding the gurus to train you to the point of such mental strength as to be able to overcome these problems. At the end of the day, without, food, shelter, water, hygiene and safety, not even a buddhist priest can be happy, because they will die and dying people are generally not happy people.

However, even if you have all of the above elements fulfilled, happiness is still elusive. So, what are other elements involved with happiness?

  1. Dependency: 
    1. When you are dependent on others you can't be happy because you have no feeling of security in yourself. 
    2. No matter how entitled one may feel to acquire resources, the bottom line is that there is that part of the human being that resents dependency on outside resources of any kind. It doesn't make people feel better to be given their "daily bread" it makes people feel worse. 
  2. Cash Flow:
    1. I believe it is impossible to be happy when you don't have sufficient cash flow coming into your bank account to pay for the expenses you have in life. If you don't have enough money, that is stress, and stress is not an ally of happiness. 
    2. Making more than you spend and saving to secure the future is the principle job of life. When you don't do this your life is out of control and nothing you can have or do is ever going to make you happy, because you are fighting a losing battle. 

Now, we are getting into the modern man's and women's world of happiness. Here is a common list of "I can't be happy unless..." list of superficial requirements modern society has to be happy. 

  1. I have to be a success
  2. I have to be taken seriously
  3. I have to be well insured
  4. I have to own a nice car
  5. I have to own a nice house
  6. I want a golf club membership
  7. I need a good spouse and have great kids.
  8. I have to be able to travel.

This is a short list of things that people feel they have to have in order to be happy and in today's world they are considered reasonable things.

But even when you have all of the boxes checked, there are still things that give you the feeling that it all isn't enough. You either want more or you want different. You are here and want to be there.

So that nagging feeling of lack because you haven't "enough" of any certain area is the cancer that eats away at our happiness.

The bottom line is, "If you are an unhappy person, nothing the world, you or anyone else can give you s ever going to be enough." You can't fill a glass with water that has a hole in the bottom. You can't make someone happy who isn't.

The real tragedy is when you discover that this person is you.

I've been in several extremely positive situations and there was always something in me that drove me away from them and none of them were external. I wasn't satisfied with my career and was always looking for somewhere else to go, something outside of myself to make me become the success I wanted to become, when in reality I had all of the success I needed at the time.

Now, I am so far away from happiness that I doubt that I can ever achieve it and now I wonder if my basic state of mind is unhappiness, as it seems to have been since I can remember.

Therefore, my challenge number one is to learn being a happy person. It is difficult when surrounded by negativity. My mom used to talk about this all of the time. She was determined to have a happy day everyday, but was usually pounded by the negativity of my father, and she was captive in the house because she wouldn't be able to support herself without him. I find myself in a similar situation right now.

Nearing the age of sixty you realize you don't have many years left, and that even if you have done a lot in life, your inability to capture, maintain and sustain that is going to make the future difficult. To be honest, I think retiring now would be the best thing to do, because I am not going to find a "job" for the future. Whatever I do, I am going to have to design my life so that it works because I can't. (In a job that is.)

So, in order to be successful in life going forward, developing the ability to be happy regardless of life situation, is the major area of work.

The irony of all this is that even when you possess all of the elements that can prevent you from being happy as listed above it becomes apparent that even though you have them you still aren't happy. So, having the things necessary for happiness won't give you happiness.

So, if you can't be happy when in fear, hungry, thirsty, poor, unclean why is it that being secure, eating, drinking, riches, and cleanliness don't make you happy?

If you are hungry you can't be happy, but food can't make you happy either.

You can't be happy if you are poor, but money won't buy you happiness.

So in this realization, how can we ever possibly be happy? 

What are the elements of happiness? 

  1. The ability to find happiness in the present moment.
    1. Without this factor then no moment can give you happiness because you aren't present in it.
  2. Practice meditation.
    1. In order to stop the mind game, you have to get control of your mind.
  3. Physical well being.
    1. You must feel good in your body. Exercise and lightness are elements to feeling physically happy.
  4. Personal Maintenance.
    1. Take the time to have a good appearance. Look sharp. Dress up. Don't be sloppy.
  5.  No more sabatoge.
    1. Consume only the right things.
      1. For every wrong thing you consume, you have to work 10 times as hard to offset it.
  6. Get into profit.
    1. If you can't support yourself, you can't be happy.
    2. If you are in debt, you can't be happy.
    3. If you can't plan your travel, you can't be happy.

Last but definitely not least.

Nobody else is responsible for your happiness.

Nobody can make you happy. Nobody can give you happiness. Nothing will make you happy unless you are happy within yourself.

I will say many people are living in dire circumstances where happiness is impossible and of course helping these people out is a higher purpose. Every human being has the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

But, in general, the reason why most people are unhappy is because they think someone else is responsible for it.

At this point in my life I am trying to find a path to happiness for myself by solving some problems that I have in my life and to share it with others. I will need the help of others to achieve it, but my only focus is going to have to be in what can I make out of it, give to it, and make it better.