Increasing the Capacity of These 5 Things Can Create Happiness in Life

Bill Abbate

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Who doesn't want to be happy in their life? I have only met one person who seemed opposed to happiness. Yet, I think her negativity and lousy attitude gave her some strange kind of satisfaction! She was a relative of mine who passed away. Despite her negative outlook on life, she lived to be 86.

Her life wasn't always so negative, but the older she got, the worse she became. The last few years of her life were nothing short of terrible. Who wants to be around such people? Unfortunately, when they are family, you can't completely abandon them no matter how badly you may want to. At least I can't.

It is far preferable to be around happy, joyful, reasonably optimistic people. What does it take for a person to be happy? I ran across a quote recently that summarizes it as well as I have read outside of some quotes from the bible.

The person who wrote these words was Storm Jameson, a British journalist, and author who, by all indications, lived a happy and long life, passing away at 95 years of age. Her quote was:

"Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed." Storm Jameson (1891-1986)

Let's look at the five capacities about which Jameson wrote. What exactly does she mean by capacity? In this case, the best way to state this type of capacity is to understand and use each of the following traits. It requires a conscious decision to make room for them in your life and live each of them to the fullest. By doing this, you can enjoy greater happiness in your life.

Feel Deeply

To allow ourselves to feel deeply is not only healthy but cathartic. Too many of us today learn to push down our emotions and feelings, which can do more harm than good when it comes to happiness. At some point, that pent-up pressure will boil over, and it is never a pretty sight.

I began learning to feel deeply when my first wife passed away from cancer at the young age of 51. I rarely had, if ever, allowed my eyes to even well up, much less cry. Despite the outward appearance and toughness I had developed over my lifetime to that point, I felt it inside. All of it too.

Upon her death, I finally was freed from the false notion I had to hold my feelings inside. I can not only shed a tear now, but I feel even more deeply than before. If you are like I was, try it, you'll like the result. Big strong, tough men can cry too! We are allowed!

The capacity I have gained as a result amazes me. If I had only known and accepted it earlier, I would not have had to go through tragedy to find this capacity for happiness.

Enjoy simply

Some of the simple pleasures of life are far beyond anything you can buy. It took me too long to realize this. When we let the culture and peer pressure push us into the success and material trap, it does not add to our happiness.

Again, to learn this lesson took seeing my first wife suffer horribly from cancer. The home, cars, and all the trappings of success became meaningless. They meant nothing compared to my wife's life. The biggest lesson I learned coming out of this was what we own owns us. It owns our time and attention, two invaluable things in our life.

Today I enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Little things that give me life, like spending time with my wife, speaking with my brother and old friends, writing regularly, and playing the guitar. They cost nothing other than the time and attention all those other things stole from me. My capacity to enjoy the simple things is now full and overflowing!

Think freely

Retiring was an eye-opening experience. I had no idea how much my job and work had occupied my mind. Yet, parts of it met my need to keep learning. Since retiring at a reasonably young age nearly ten years ago, I have continued the learning I have always loved. I also enjoy freedom from concern over a business. It is a wonderful thing to be able to think freely about what I want when I want.

I hope anyone reading this who has their mind continuously tied up with work, family, and the many concerns of life can find time to clear their minds. If you can do it even for short periods, it will increase your happiness. You must make a conscious choice to build this capacity into your life. Do it, and you will never regret it!

Risk life

There are many things we can take a shot at risking in life. The one I wish I had taken far earlier was in my ability to feel deeply. I am sure I missed many opportunities with my first wife with my reluctance, or maybe I should call it fear, to share a tear, speak my heart, and be more open and honest with her.

I now know had I taken the risk, the reward would have been great. While we had a good marriage, it could have been even better, and my regrets fewer. Fortunately, this lesson has taught me a new way to be with my current wife, and we have a wonderful life!

Why not take a risk to show and share your deepest feelings with your spouse once in a while. It will do each of you good and enlarge your capacity to be happy and take risks in other areas of life.

Be needed

Everyone wants to be needed by someone. Who needs you in your life - your parents, spouse, children, family, friends, colleagues, pets, or others? There is a special feeling of happiness that is only fulfilled when you know you are needed.

Being needed by someone else in a good way helps you become more mature as you love and care for them. When you are needed, you know you are respected and valued, which will increase your capacity to love and care for others. The feeling of genuinely being needed will surely fill your happiness to overflowing!

Final words

I am so glad I ran across Jameson's quote. It has filled my heart with joy to think about this subject. It is a great thing to enlarge your capacity for happiness.

Life is short, so why not share this article with someone close to you? Discuss with one another what you believe your capacity is in each of the five areas. Do you need greater capacity in any one area? What can you do to increase it? Do this with someone you love, and it will not only do each of you good, but it will also make you happier!

I leave you with another quote from Jameson on which you can contemplate as you further consider happiness in your life:

"The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable." Storm Jameson

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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