What Is Happiness? And Two Easy Steps That Will Make You Feel Good About Yourself Today

Toni Koraza

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You can positively affect your day with altruistic wishing and finality focus. Happiness is the ultimate aim of human action. And while happiness is not factual science, certain groups offer fascinating observations. Epicureans believed you need three things to be happy.

  • Friendship: Sharing is caring.
  • Freedom: Food and shelter.
  • Reflection: Have a moment for yourself.

Eastern philosophies provide actionable steps to practice happiness.

  • Altruistic wishing: Think about 3 people you wish to be happy.
  • Finality focus: Breathe out and recognize the moment where your breath seizes to exist.

Happiness goes beyond the ideas outlined in this post. And everyone is entitled to their version of joy. But these actionable steps will put a smile on your face today.

Brief History of Happiness in Simple Words

Humanity is fascinated with happiness since we could think and talk. The idea of happiness was handed down from Plato and Aristotle. But nobody quite put it in measurable terms until Epicureans in ancient Greece.

Plato called happiness the meaning of life because it’s the only thing you want for itself. Every other craving is connected to something else that ultimately has a goal of reaching happiness.

There is more to the story as old Greek translations might not be perfect. But one thing is certain. Ancient philosophers were thinking about happiness in terms of the highest aims of human experience.

Epicurus believed in avoiding pain and seeking natural and necessary pleasure. He advocated the life of responsible hedonism. Epicureans described the feeling in practical terms. You essentially need three things to be happy.

1. Friendship

If you don’t have someone to share your wants, beliefs, and fears, you’re going to feel lonely. Loneliness and happiness don’t bode well together. You don’t need to be surrounded by hundreds of people, just a person who listens and tries to understand will be enough.

Sharing is caring. Friends are a true blessing in life.

Epicureans believed in never eating alone. Sharing a table was necessary for a good life. Who you eat and drink was more important than what you eat. I’d also rather eat canned soup with a good friend, then attend a banquet with people I can’t stand.

2. Freedom

Western-constitutional laws and human rights recognize at least ten different freedoms. (Freedom of belief, speech, press, association, religion, bear arms, etc.) The term is loose. But Epicureans focused on financial freedom.

Happiness is hard in captivity. The epicurean idea of well-being depends on having enough means to live the life you call your own. Epicureans didn’t talk about greedy riches and golden thrones. Their idea was to have enough money to pay rent, food, and afford daily necessities without having to ration.

Defaulting on my mortgage or having money for food would keep me awake at night. Happiness would be hard out of reach at that point.

3. Reflection

A person needs time for themselves. After a busy week at work, you might crave an hour to decompress and enjoy the state of not being around your co-workers, friends, and family. Don’t feel guilty. Every human needs a moment for themselves. I’ve taken long showers to escape the environment in the past. I came back with a smile once I felt ready.

Reflection is the time you take to think about past events and put them in perspective. A reflection is a form of mental health maintenance.

We love our families and friends, but we can’t function around others 24/7.

Simple Actionable Steps

While ancient Greeks were impressive at observing the state of things, they fell short of providing actionable steps to achieve their ideas.

We all know the benefits of Meditation, Yoga, and Taoism. You can recalibrate and save your life by practicing either one of them. But you’ll need substantial time and energy to master those disciplines.

Two simple, actionable steps, will put a smile on your face in the next 10minutes. The feeling will come back in waves throughout the day.

If the promise sounds too good to be true, or like mumbo-jumbo-pseudo-psychology, ask yourself one question. What do you have to lose? Taking 2 minutes to reflect on personal happiness is not crazy nor costly.

Google pioneer Chade-Meng Tan talks about similar ideas. He detailed his work in books Joy on Demand and Search Inside Yourself, which were endorsed by Erich Schmidt, President Carter, and the Dalai Lama. I’ve used both methods and expanded the conversation.

Altruistic Wishing

Chase-Meng Tan calls it the “joy of loving-kindness.” He publicly advised people to take a 10-second break to wish happiness for someone. Nothing more than a 10-second wish. Identify two souls and wish them all the best. You don’t need to say it out loud or give those individuals a hint of what you’re doing. Just think.

One of his prospects had the happiest day in seven years, after applying this method.

Identify two or three souls and wish them happiness. “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy too.”

This idea is a form of altruistic wishing. You don’t need to limit yourself on wishing other people to just be happy. You can get more specific and dive deeper. Wish your little sister to graduate with good grades, or that her newborn has a stellar life. Wish your childhood friend — one you haven’t seen in years — to find true love. Helping others — even just in thought — will provide personal satisfaction.

You’ll smile when you wish good things upon others. Instant blessing. This method is contagious. And you can do it at any time of the day as many times as you want. No limits. Go crazy.

Finality focus

The passage of time is the most depressing and the most uplifting though in human experience. All things come to an end. Every waking moment and every painful instance will pass.

This method will help you soothe your worry. Like the step above, it won’t take more than a few seconds.

Exhale, and focus on the last millisecond of your breath. Absorb the moment you realize the breath is gone.

Concentrate on the fact that each sensory impulse ends. Think about the finality of all things. Finality focus will help you relieve worry. You’ll be armed against the next feeling of horrible physical pain, emotional distress, and mental confusion. And while you can’t be happy all the time, you should know how to escape the overwhelming dread.

The Takeaway

Happiness is a feeling that captivated human hearts since the begging our civilization.

Ancient Greeks outlined the ideas and principles of happiness, and eastern philosophies provided tools and material to attain that feeling. Epicureans see three requirements for a joyful life.

  • Friendship
  • Freedom
  • Reflection

I deeply value Yoga, Taoism, and Meditation as fantastic tools to relieve turmoil. But those practices need time, energy, and effort to master. I’ve outlined two methods that you can use without any previous experience. The results are instant.

  • Altruistic wishing
  • Finality focus

Breathe out and wish your friends to be happy!

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