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Finding authentic happiness

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by Dr Jozelle Miller

For many of us, long lasting happiness has been elusive. We generally tend to have moments of happiness… but do they last and are these moments meaningful?

I think possibly the main reason for persons’ lack of happiness is their lack of understanding of what authentic happiness is and how to experience it. {{more}}The following will not give you all the answers, but it is my hope, that it will raise questions, which will start you on the journey to finding authentic happiness in your own life.

There are those moments in our lives, like when we get married; a new baby; graduate top in our class; get a promotion on the job or inherit a sizeable amount of money, when we feel this must be what happiness feels like. But, is this authentic happiness or is it an emotional illusion of happiness?

Let’s assume it is a form of happiness, which is temporary. In believing and thinking it is the real thing, we would intently pursue this temporary feeling of happiness through things outside of ourselves, through other people and, the acquisition of material things.

It is imperative therefore to define what is meant by the concept authentic happiness… From my perspective, it is the feeling of contentment in life, wherever you are and whatever is going on. This is true happiness. It is having faith; truly believing and knowing that everything will be alright. Believing that you will never be given more than you can handle; things will be taken care of, and feeling an overall sense of peace and trust in a greater being who offers genuine security.

We all have to get to a place of realizing that authentic happiness comes from within, that it does not require us to purchase, eat or drink anything. More importantly, expecting to get your inner happiness from someone else will only lead to disappointment. We expect too much of others and give too much power over our lives to others. It is important that we take ownership of our peace of mind and overall happiness. I am not saying that we cannot experience a form of happiness through external experiences, but the type of happiness I am talking about, brings about a sense of pleasure and joy that cannot be shaken when that person walks out of your life or when you lose your home and property. We have all experienced this temporary kind of feeling and it is far from being pleasurable, joyful or as content as you can get. But the displeasure became fleeting, as we searched deeper to that hidden meaning to all of life experiences.

In his groundbreaking work on ‘authentic happiness’, Dr Martin Seligman describes how we can build happiness by deliberately creating more pleasure, engagement and meaning in our daily lives. The Pleasant Life consists of thinking and feeling positively about our past, present and future until we are experiencing life at the top of our ‘set range’. The Engaged Life grows when we know our highest strengths and re-craft our lives to use them as often as possible. We experience fullness and flow; we lose track of time and feel a deep sense of satisfaction. The Meaningful Life is possible when we use our strengths and talents to serve something greater than ourselves. There is no limit to meaning – it is completely adjustable and plastic.

Having a pleasant, meaningful and engaged life will allow us to live in authentic happiness. We have all been imprisoned by social conditioning, which says that life is about the job, the relationship, money, appearances, and acquiring things. This gives us a false vision of what brings happiness and we end up losing sight of the actual truth about life and what brings us real happiness, peace and a truer understanding of who we are, so we can live a more authentic life.

Too often we get comfortable where we are or allow fear to keep our spirits from revealing themselves completely. We forget our real purpose here: to live, love, share, be of service, HAVE FUN, enjoy life and seek out what life has to teach us. Be mindful of what is taking place around and in you, and then start doing what brings you AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS.

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital

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