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Clues About Finding Happiness

Happiness is a manageable goal. That is, we are not born with and or without it. Certainly, expanding happiness is not the same for everybody. But we all can be happier if we work at it.

BUT — our Care and Kindness Campaign is not, first of all, about happiness. It is about blessing people, giving gifts of affirmation, encouraging, appreciating people. But the wonderful truth is that a life steadily concentrating on that kind of giving is going to be a happier life. Not only will the recipients be happier, but the ones thoughtfully dedicated to giving such loving kindness will also be happier.

Do you get that? Thinking about other people, blessing other people by what you choose to do for them, thinking outside yourself is what makes YOU happy! Any way we go about being compassionate, grateful, forgiving, respectful, and loyal, is beneficial — not only to our world and others, but it makes ourselves happier people!

Happiness, achieved in the right way, is definitely important — there is an enormous payoff in being happy. For example, in some extensive research, happy people were half as likely to die and half as likely to become disabled in the 20 years that they were observed. Positive emotions — happiness, they concluded — protects against the ravages of aging.

There are, of course, spiritual promises so rich and deep that happiness comes with them. Like the promises that Jesus loves us, now and forever, in this life and in the life to come. That is infinitely joy-producing. But even that promise can be enlivened and made more soul-nourishing by those who believe it. Connecting personally with Jesus, and having that relationship grow and deepen helps us to love others. As we relate more personally to people, we increase our happiness and sense of well-being.

  • Other than embracing these profound spiritual gifts, there are day-to-day ways of becoming a happier person, and to live longer and more healthfully. One more route to happiness, proven by research, is by having more friends, both casual and close.

One of the surprising discoveries in recent years, reported by Martin E. P. Seligman, in his book Authentic Happiness, is about expressing our anger. Conventional wisdom, embraced by most, maintains that we must express our rage or it will be destructive to our health. Recent research declares the falsehood of that thinking: expressing our anger produces more anger . . . plus cardiac disease.

  • 50% of who we are is genetic. That is, we are born with certain characteristics. But 50% is also changeable, flexible, learned, open to growth. That half is able to behave, act, relate, and grow into greater happiness.

There are endless ways of brightening an hour or even a day. Good food, great movies, satisfying gardening, pleasant conversations, beautiful flowers, and other endless additional activities. But happiness is different. It is the product of thoughtful actions that lift another’s spirits — loving kindness consistently expressed and demonstrated. It creates happiness in the giver as well as the receiver.


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