11 May Happiness is…staying strong and asking the right question
Happiness is building and focusing on a great life and not worrying too much about momentary fluctuations in mood. What do I mean by this?
Too many people ask the wrong question when it comes to happiness; too many people ask (themselves or others) “are you happy?” Now this might seem like a reasonable question to ask but the reason I believe it’s not the best question to ask is because when answering, it’s too easy to focus on momentary moods or feelings, which can change quite rapidly for better or worse, and which at certain times do not fully reflect the state of our lives.
So what’s a better question?
Technically, as a positive psychologist, I’d encourage you to ask something like “taking everything into account, how satisfied are you with your life overall?”
The reason I believe this to be a better question is because it overrides the daily or momentary fluctuations in mood and encourages the questioner and responder to focus much more on whether they’re really living a good life rather than whether they happen to be experiencing one of the many positive emotions in that instance.
Personally, I’ve found that keeping this in mind can make a profound difference. What it allows me to do is separate temporary frustrations and short term stressors from the reality of my life…which is that “taking everything into accout” I have a wonderful and happy existence. That doesn’t mean my life is perfect but what it does mean is that like the bamboo that is strong enough to survive powerful winds but flexible enough to bend when necessary, I can remain strong even when I’m being buffeted by irritations and difficulties!
So what am I really trying to say? I’m saying that happiness, real happiness, is about asking the right question. And the right question should take into account pleasure and positive emotions BUT ALSO meaning and purpose and connectedness and engagement. These make up what we call authentic happiness which is much more important than the correlates of hedonism too many people mistakingly seek.