Just what is the definition of happiness? This becomes a very important question, and extremely relevant to whether or not we have the right map. These pages will explore our individual happiness and how we can make better choices to bring us closer to it.
The best definition of happiness includes two things:
• Our ability to experience joy and pleasure in the form of peak experiences, which will fade.
• A general overall feeling of satisfaction and well being that is not intense or spiked in anyway.
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In these pages we will look at the wrong turns we make that lead us further away from happiness.
Definition of Happiness: Mistake # 1 Avoiding Pain and Discomfort
In order to get happiness, we have to feel some unhappiness. We don’t understand this, and so we often make a wrong choice. Procrastination is a good example. In our attempts to avoid unpleasant tasks, we create a greater sense of unhappiness. We think the definition of happiness is “feeling good always and feeling good right now.” It isn’t. Sadness, anger, discomfort, anxiety, all these things ,must be experienced in order to have happiness. No one is happy all the time. Many of the choices, and wrong turns we make on our path to happiness have to do with this mistake.
It really isn’t our fault . We are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We have tricked ourselves into thinking avoiding discomfort will bring us happiness, because in the instant it will. If we choose not to do something that is stressful or difficult what happens? Well in the moment, it feels good! We feel a sense of relief.
Our mind doesn’t always work the way it should to bring us happiness! We need to train it.
Yet, what happens when we procrastinate, avoid, distract or ignore doing unpleasant things? We don’t feel very happy about yourself because we aren’t accomplishing what we need to get done. In the future we will pay the price for this on many different levels. We will feel badly about ourselves and we won’t accomplish what we need to accomplish.
Good habits and choices really do have something to do with happiness. When we are unhappy, we are making what we think are the right choices that will to bring us closer to happiness, when in fact they are the wrong choices.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 2: Trading the future for the present by seeking pleasure
Another mistake we make is the seeking of pleasure in the moment at the sacrifice of our long term happiness. For example, eating drinking, and spending too much to try to feel better right now, will often lead to situations which over the long haul, produce unhappiness. We think the definition of happiness is “If I only I could have that, or do this, everything would be better. “ So we buy things we can’t afford, and we eat things we shouldn’t eat. Then we get poor and fat! That doesn’t lead to happiness.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 3: Trading the Present for the Future
Trading the present for the future is also a very common theme which produces unhappiness. One part of the definition of happiness is being able to have peak experiences and experience joy and pleasure in the moment. However, this does not mean false or artificially induced joy. Food, drugs and other addictions may provide a false sense of happiness and joy. One of the biggest mistakes we make in our search for happiness is to chase the peak experiences, hang on to the peak experiences (which always fade), or choose the peak experiences at the expense of our overall happiness.
But real” in the moment” happiness comes from being present. That means paying attention to your friends and family and what they are saying so you can experience true intimacy and emotional connection. It means being able to walk outside and experience the feeling of the sun on your skin, or see and smell the beauty of the flowers. It means being present with your mind and body so you can experience life as it is. It means not being preoccupied with the future and past in a way that prevents you from being here now.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 4: Trading the Past for the Present, Trading the Past for the Future
Another thing that we will frequently do is punish ourselves for things that happened in the past. We will make bad choices that deprive us of happiness because we are trying to undo or change the past. When we let the past define who we are now, or limit us and what we can do in the future, we are setting ourselves up for unhappiness. Our past does not limit your future in many of the ways you think it does. It is mistake to believe that’s the case. We all deserve happiness and we are all responsible for cultivating it. Our minds trick us into thinking we are doing something helpful for ourselves when we aren’t.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 5: Refusing to Accept Things as They are
This is a big one! Hour after hour in my therapy office we explore this. So many hours we waste working on acceptance so that we can’t really move forward and impact what we have control over. If we have been hurt, or wronged, or made bad mistakes we need to accept it. Wanting it to be different, wishing it to be different it won’t make it so. Once we accept that something is, we can work on it. Think about this. You go to the mechanic because your car isn’t working right and he tells you the engine is broken. You argue with him about how it isn’t fair. You tell him you don’t believe him. You leave and continue to drive the car. What will happen? Will the engine get fixed? No, it will probably get worse.
In the pages linked here we will learn more about each of these issues. Leave definition of happiness homepage