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Research suggests that we are all chasing happiness. All individuals are wired pretty much the same way, and it seems that the ultimate goal is to be full of joy and contentment. We are all seeking everlasting happiness.
What is it that shapes your emotional well-being? What is it that rings your bell? What makes your heart beat faster? What is it that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling called happiness? I would imagine a vast majority of people will answer that question immediately with money-the almighty dollar. However, when looking at the research of people who have won the lottery or are extremely wealthy, it seems all that money brought them nothing but misery.
Is it good health? Many of you are the epitome of healthy and don't seem to be happy. Job security? I can list pages full of folks who have jobs others would kill for and they aren't happy. The perfect family? I can't even talk about the people who have screwed their families up in search of "outside interest" that they thought would bring them happiness. Therefore, the perfect family did not keep them on the road to endless happiness.
Then what is the answer to this question? Tragically, the foundation of many people's lives was built on chasing money, the fountain of youth, entertainment, and countless other things that they just knew would bring them an abundance of happiness. Yet when the rubber met the road...they were not happy. Does this sound familiar to you? Can you relate to this?
I saw a T-shirt the other day and it said "other people matter." Other people matter a great deal! If we realize this and nothing more than this, it could lead us to a lifetime of happiness. My family has been on a very God driven journey the past several years, and we have found that as opposed to putting self first, think of someone else. Gee, doesn't that sound rather Biblical?! Note to self, the good book will never steer you in the wrong direction!
As opposed to buying something for yourself, get something for a friend. When pumping gas and the person next to you puts five bucks in a tank and you have the ability to help...fill their tank up. I can assure you that will bring you immediate happiness. Is there something that is extremely meaningful to you? Are you passionate about The American Heart Association because one of your parents died of a heart attack or The American Cancer Society because your sibling died of cancer...donate your time or your money to them. That will change the baseline of happiness in your life.
You probably are thinking, "Well, that will only make me happy for a brief moment." Each journey starts with a small step. Once you make your initial move and feel the results, you will be apt to do it a second time and then you say, "Well, I think I will try that again." Then once becomes twice and twice becomes three times and you're off to the races. You might even look in the mirror and ask, "Who is that person I am looking at with the big smile on her face?"
I'll give you a few pointers for happiness:
- spend more time with your family
- smile on a regular bases
- attend church
- do more social activities, (even if it is going to the movie or walking a neighbor's dog)
- volunteer at the local library one day a week
We all make choices each and every day. Think about how your choices will affect other people. Will your choice bring happiness to someone? To yourself? I speak to charitable organizations almost every week. Last week I was in two cities, several thousand people at one event and 700 or 800 people at the other one. During the Q&A's after I spoke, someone asked at both events, "How has all this impacted your life?" My answer is we have learned that giving has made us happier than we ever imagined. Choosing to spend money on others versus yourself will change your life. Choosing to give your time to make a difference in someone's life or a worthy organization, will change your life.
I read about an experiment where people were given $20.00 and told to either use it for themselves or give it away. At the end of the day the people whom gave it away tested happier than the ones who kept the money. Why don't you try that little experiment yourself this week? Start small with five bucks. Dedicate that five dollars to someone with a need, more money if you can swing it. The next day spend the same amount on yourself. I would be willing to bet at the end of day just reliving the memory of your gifting the money to someone will in itself give you happiness all over.
Charitable giving or any giving in my opinion is a good feeling. It gives you a sense of a life worth living. It brings joy and happiness to your personal life as well. We live in a selfish world. We strive to be happy just like we strive for everything else. If you are not experiencing life in a way that brings joy and happiness to others on a daily basis, then you are missing happiness with each minute that passes. My hope for each and every person is that when your feet hit the floor every morning that you make a commitment to happiness just like you make a commitment to succeed, to do what is right, to influence others, etc... Be thankful to God for what He has given to you. I hope you will use your resources wisely, not to impress people but to provide happiness to those less fortunate which in turn provides happiness to you. I think you will find this happiness thing will lead to a much more caring and connected life. My hope is that you are able to find it and live the life you were meant to live, as opposed to continuing to chase something that all the time has been right under your nose!
Photo credit: seanbjack
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family's charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.