“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling.” –Margaret Lee Runbeck
The last 3 months have provided me with a lot of great experiences and memories: celebrating my 29th birthday, catching up with old friends from interstate and abroad, celebrating anniversaries with loved ones and Sunday night dinners with close friends. After taking a step back and looking at the last 3 months, I must say that I feel extremely lucky to have such great people in my life. I read an article on line only a few weeks ago outlining the 21 Habits of Supremely Happy People (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/happiness-habits-of-exuberant-human-beings_n_3909772.html). Now considering myself to be a pretty happy type of person, I took great pleasure in looking at each habit and seeing as to whether or not I was covering it. Some of the habits are obvious, while some surprise, regardless, I can safely say that I had experienced each one of the habits at some point or another through out my life to date. It got me thinking about my own habits and what I could improve on or do more of to become happier and enjoy life more. We all enjoy being happy and fundamentally that is what we are all striving to achieve with our lives: ‘do what makes you happy’ as the old adage goes. But we just don’t suddenly reach that ‘happy’ end point do we? It’s a continual process to see how happy we can be regardless of the challenges that life presents us with at any given time. The best thing about the habits suggested, is that none of them cost you anything and they are things you can action right now, this very moment, today. I want to share with you the two habits that resonated with me, and the profound impact they have had on me this year in particular.
Happy people: They Cultivate resilience
I found this an interesting habit, in the sense that the author of the article went on to describe ‘resilience, not happiness, is the opposite to depression. Happy people know how to bounce back from failure.’ Failure is a common theme in everyone’s lives in some capacity, it’s a given that we will experience failure in our lives at some point. But to think of our ability to overcome failure as the opposite to depression, not happiness, was a perspective I had never really considered. The more I thought about it though, the more it began to make sense to me, and looking back over my own life and the stories of those that I have heard, it became more and more apparent that resilience is a necessity to be happy. Those that think they can go through life unharmed (physically and emotionally) are missing out on experiencing one of life’s greatest experiences: the ability to overcome adversity and relish in the ecstasy that lies on the other side. Resilience forces you to get up when you’ve been knocked down and demands you to make more of yourself! From a business standpoint, I know that we set ourselves ambitions this year that we haven’t quite reached…yet, however just because we haven’t reached them in our desired period of time, does not mean for a second that we intend on giving up on them. As disappointing as failure can be, the happiness that comes with persistence and eventually achieving your ambitions cannot be matched. In the same breath I must say, that not being consumed by your failures and keeping perspective of the bigger picture, is essential in staying happy. Happy people are defined by how they deal with and move on from failure, not the failure itself.
Happy people: They uphold in person connections
In a society that is increasingly losing its ability to connect with people ‘in-person’ and where people’s online personalities are more animated and interesting than their ‘in-person’ equivalents, it is fair to say that our most common form of communication comes in the form of social media/online. But as engaging as a ‘tweet’ can be, or as informative as a personalized email from a friend overseas can be, nothing quite compares to a hug from a good friend or a meal with valued company. For me, I related to this habit the most. Having forged a number of great friendships with people who live overseas, I can say without a doubt, that the rush you get from visiting someone abroad or interstate that you haven’t seen in a long time, is a feeling that goes unmatched. Earlier this year I went to a good friend of mine’s wedding in Poland and although I was only there for one-week, the memories and feelings forged will last a life time. And that is something that cannot be passed on in the written word or through any number of photos. A great friend of mine always says to me that: ‘friendships are about the amount of effort you put into them,’ and you get out of them what you put into them. Undoubtedly, the Internet and social media make it easier than ever to keep in touch with loved ones abroad, but it’s the ‘in-person’ interactions that truly keep us ‘in-touch’. A direct influence on our state of happiness is through the people we engage with, the more we see the ones who mean a lot to us, the happier we are. From weddings overseas, to long weekends away visiting friends interstate, to Sunday night dinners with the friends I’m lucky enough to see most days, the ‘in-person’ connection is what we crave as humans. These face-to-face encounters not only make us happy, but they provide us with a sense of belonging and connection that is a deep-rooted as our origins. So buy the plane ticket, save the date or make the commitment, your happiness is in your hands.