What do you need to be truly happy? Is it about having a nice car, achieving financial independence, or living in one’s dream home? All of those are nice, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting them, but are they necessary for happiness for you or your family? Princeton researcher Daniel Kahneman's study suggests that a person doesn’t necessarily have to have them in order to be truly happy.
There are a few things, however, that a person does need in order to be truly happy. Fortunately, they may not be as difficult for your family to achieve as one may think.
One part of being truly happy is being able to respect yourself. And real self-respect comes, of course, from living in such a way as to make yourself able to feel respect for yourself. Being able to look yourself in the face every day, and say, “I am OK!” and mean it, adds much to a person’s ability to have true and lasting happiness. No matter what others may think of you, if you know you are a worthwhile human being, that’s what matters. This self-respect will rub off on your family members.
A sense of purpose
Having something to be enthusiastic about, is a very big help in being truly happy. Purpose comes from having gainful employment that you love, a family to take care of or anything that you do that betters your life and the lives of others around you. In my own life, I have found that the fastest way for me to cheer up if I am feeling low about anything, is to do something nice for someone else. I am amazed how much my own happiness increases just because of that.
Not being too hard on yourself
We all make mistakes. My teenage children are really good at reminding me of that fact. If we do something dumb, tactless, or blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time, (I’m really good at that) it doesn’t mean the world has ended, or that we’re not worthwhile people.
Now, of course if we have done something that requires fixing or an apology to someone else, then by all means, we need to fix the mistake we’ve made. But once that’s done and over with, continuing to dwell on the dumb thing we did, and recycling needless guilt isn’t very productive. Moving forward, making yourself better day by day, and not being too hard on yourself can help to increase personal and family happiness.
Holding grudges, nursing age-old, secret injuries and down-right hating other people has never helped anyone to be happy — no matter how justified they may feel. That isn’t to say that you need to approve of inappropriate things that others might do, or trust people who have shown that they don’t deserve your trust. In fact, it is wise to avoid people and situations that are unhealthy for you. But putting aside past injuries by not dwelling on them, and seeing the good in the world wherever you can, is a pretty big part of being able to find happiness — especially in family life.
In the end, happiness is a choice that we make for ourselves. It is something that develops in our own hearts. Having awesome things is nice and there’s nothing wrong with seeking to improve the quality of our lives. But, true happiness comes from something more than stuff. Being able to respect ourselves, having a sense of purpose, not being too hard on ourselves and looking for the good in the world are all ways that can help us build and maintain true and lasting happiness.