A guide to happiness?

Do we really need a guide to be happy?

What is happiness?

Do you ever wonder how to find happiness or am I the only one?

I actually read
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

by Gretchen Rubin and rather enjoyed it.

She felt a bit stuck in her life and realized that there had to be more than just plodding through day after day.

Just a regular person with a fairly regular life.

And her prescription for happiness is quite straight forward.

I do recommend the book.

The various definitions of happiness all seem rather fuzzy to me.

What makes one person happy may not make another person happy.

Should we even be spending time and energy wondering how to be happy?

Why can’t it just happen damn it?!

Hell maybe it does and I don’t realize it! I am so caught up in thinking about happiness that I miss it.

Oh dear.

Anyway I digress.

What is interesting is that I have what most would call a very good life. And I do realize that so then I end up feeling guilty.

I want for nothing. I am healthy. My son is good(most of the time). I have an amazing girlfriend.

Shouldn’t that be enough?

I love my own version of minimalist living. I could do better at living a minimalist lifestyle, but I am a work in progress.

There were lots of amazing comments on the last post and it struck me on how many mentioned either happiness or contentment.

Are these two concepts the same or are they mutually exclusive of one anther?

Maybe what I need to realize is there is not any such thing as “when I achieve x,y,z I will be happy”.

This is tricky to remember at times.

I do realize it from a “stuff” point of view.

I need to remember it more from “life in general” point of view.

I also need to make note of what does make me happy.

Here are some things that help me to feel happy and content.

  • laughing with my girlfriend
  • the ocean/the beach
  • my son
  • nature
  • music/dancing
  • seeing little kids laugh
  • the chipmunk that I feed in the driveway
  • blogging and blog comments
  • animals

I have at various times in my life felt a bit lost and a bit out of place. Like I do not fit in so this doesn’t help.

Add in a healthy dose of low self esteem and a giant freak head and you have a recipe for wondering about stuff.

That’s to make Tammy laugh.

Anyway.

I am not sure about the idea that happiness comes from within.

I mean I do get that and that happiness is a choice.

I do get to choose my attitude for the day.

Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond to it.

I just need to remember that and concentrate on the moments that actually help me to feel happy.

It would make me super happy if you would share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks and have an awesome day.

“Live simply ”

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34 thoughts on “The Minimalist Lifestyle Guide to Happiness

  1. I’m a firm believer in you reap what you sow. If you are lost, help someone else find their way, if you are sad, bring joy to someone else, if you are in need of encouragement, comfort someone else. Happiness comes from the ‘doing’ and ‘being present’ for others….

    1. I agree with this. Stop looking and start living. Focus on doing instead of waiting and wanting. It is a bit like blogging. When the blog content doesn’t seem to roll, go out and get involved and volia, something amazing to blog about seems to just appear! Add a generous heart to this attitude and you are walking the happiness path.

  2. Contentment, to me, is a mild form of happiness. You’re comfortable. You have what you need for life and know you need little else. Happiness are those special things that make your soul expand. Those giggling children, exploring the world. The joy of watching your son play. The beauty of a sunset or sunrise from the beach. Happiness is the cherry of life. Contentment is the ice cream. (Of course, the topping and flavor differs for each person.)

  3. I, like you, sometimes ponder what the source of happiness is.
    I have a thought. . . Let me know what you think of it.
    I think being happy is a lot like being lucky.
    I read an article a long time ago, cannot remember the source. It was about people who are lucky vs unlucky. They did an experiment with two groups. The lucky people won the same number of times as the unlucky people did, but the lucky people remembered the wins. That was their focus. The unlucky people could remember the losses better.
    I always considered myself a lucky person. Not because everything goes right, but because I chose, instinctively, to forget the bad times. I guess that same trait keeps me happy. 🙂

    1. This is brilliant.

      Ties in with my “you choose your attitude”

      So try to focus on the positives.

      So it began the question why are some of us optimistic and others pessimistic. Often times on the same thing

      Wonderful comment. Thanks

  4. For me, I’ve realized that one key to contentedness/happiness is embracing the daily chores, working with my hands, and not feeling the need to go on vacation. Vacations are great, but I’m not trying to escape anything. Just a change of pace. During tougher times in my life, I have found myself wishing I was more happy, and that didn’t help. Placing high expectations on mood, i’ve found, is counterproductive.

    1. I feel the same way. Vacations seem to put me in the mind set that those few days when you get away each year are somehow supposed to be better than all your other days.

      I’d rather think of every day being a vacation. I guess its just a point of view.

  5. Happiness–Being in the moment instead of worrying what just passed or what’s going to happen. Look around you–there’s a lot of happy in it.

  6. Being in the moment is my key to happy. The more I’m able to appreciate, see, feel, smell, actually live the right here, right now, the more delirious I am. Nature, painting, art, my husband, pets friends, family (the ones I like!) can damn near make me giddy. Took some practice, and I’m still a novice, but it’s such a treat. Hope you find your happy.

  7. Good post. The eternal quest for happiness. Everyone seems to be seeking out this elusive state of mind. I think there is a difference between happiness and contentment. The first one seems more fleeting than the second. I would rather be content…

  8. “What is interesting is that I have what most would call a very good life. And I do realize that so then I end up feeling guilty.” <— Yes! So very true! I struggled with this a lot – it's so easy to set yourself on the worst kind of shame spiral with this kind of thinking but just because you have what on paper looks like a good life it isn't always enough to make a person happy. Once I was able to reconcile that for myself then I started breaking down what was really important and I came to the conclusion that I had made a lot of choices to make other people happy and that I was basically living the life of someone else, not my own life or rather a life that I would personally want and THAT was what was missing from the equation. Granted my job was good but was it a job I really enjoyed? Not really! So what steps could I take right then and there to right that situation? I decided that I could start working towards my bachelor's degree, since I had already started one many years ago and that once I finished it I would have a better chance to get a career I really enjoyed and in the mean time I would get enjoyment from learning in my studies, and since I was doing my degree part time I could still work and not be a broke student like I was when I was younger – so it's sort of like the best of both worlds. I'm not getting immediate gratification of leaving the career that I realized I was perhaps unsuited for BUT I am working towards a goal and once I reach that goal it will be extremely meaningful because I put so much time and effort into it – and that causes me a lot of happiness too 🙂

  9. The more I am grateful, the happier I am. Like the comment about remembering the wins being the characteristic of “lucky” people, noticing the small things in life, the little moments of beauty and connection, and being grateful for them, seems to be a never ending happiness generator. I started by writing three things in a gratitude journal every night. That meant I had to look for three “something wonderful” things every day. I developed the habit of looking. Now there is no counting the number of small miracles that makes me happy. There are too many. (And none of them involve buying something in a store or spending money. Gratitude is the ultimate minimalist lifestyle practice!)

  10. I’m inclined to believe that happiness follows the pattern that many other things follow: it is rarely improved by human scheming. It seems as though we cannot develop a plan without also developing expectations, and when those imagined expectations are not met we develop a sense of failure and point our fingers at the plan. Developing a plan or a practice for cultivating happiness is no different. At some point in the process we start to imagine what happiness will feel like, what we will be doing when we are happy. For those lucky few who find their imaginings lining up with reality, this is no issue. For the rest of us, it’s an exercise in further frustration.

    Those lucky few probably didn’t have a better plan, however. What many of them understand is that they can control their imaginings. They can trick themselves into believing that just about any situation is a rich soil in which to cultivate their happiness and they do so. But it’s not really a trick. It’s the whole strategy. It’s the realization that most of us don’t really know what happiness feels like, so any definition is valid.

  11. While reading this I thought about all the times people question what happiness is, how you attain it, where it comes from, and a host of other questions. I know everyone in their life struggles at some point with happiness, I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t at some time or another.

    While doing some reading I stumbled across Martin Seligman, a psychologist, he determined 5 broad factors that contribute to people’s happiness that I can’t refute. People are happiest when they have these things in their life: pleasure (ice cream or hearing your child laugh), engagement (activities that challenge you but yet you still enjoy doing), relationships (close bonds with other people), meaning (some reason for living, a journey you feel you’re on, goals you’re working towards, etc), and accomplishments (goals you have attained).

    I agree that happiness is subjective to your personal experiences, views, and definitions. What makes me happy may not make someone else happy. One of the goals I have made for myself is to appreciate things more, we take things for granted too often and sadly the saying is true that we typically don’t realize the things or people in our lives until they are gone. In working towards this goal I reflect on things more often than I used to and realize that when I think about certain things I don’t just experience the emotional aspect of happiness but I experience a deeper satisfaction and mental ease knowing that this one thing contributes to me having an overall better well-being in life. The happier I am, the more I help others and want to, the more I feel able to conquer, the more I don’t need things or people to fulfull something within me. I think happiness and contentment are two different things but I think they walk hand in hand, when I experience the moments of happiness I develop a contentment that lasts much longer.

  12. I am happy when I know everything I’m doing is “Mission Critical” By doing the essential things I know I am ALWAYS doing the right thing.
    People just need to know the truth when they know the truth about what they want; then you are action! If you are not advancing the mission, then you haven’t learned the truth about what your calling is. Once you find your path NOTHING can stop you from being….being what nature intended for you when you find that and take action, your life will be effortless and you will be happy!

  13. Thank you for your happy/content list. It inspired me to create my own. What a wonderful tool. I notice that my life is not that far off from my list. I live in a city that is too cold for me. Something that makes me super happy is living in warmth. I feel that I need to be here, but I also want to get my need for warmth met. A couple of weeks ago my partner and I took a spontaneous trip to the tropics, which is like 3.5 hours away. It was an amazing one day. I felt so alive. So now the thought is to do both — live part of the week in the city and the other part in the country where we can wear shorts (and bug repellant!) and grow crops and have animals. I like the comments in your last post where many were encouraging planning. There is a lot to be taken care of in the city to establish a base this year — we’re talking seven months. The plan is by sometime the beginning of next year to be living this new life. In the meantime, there are always weekend trips. I appreciate your processing your thoughts and sharing them so candidly. To have a knack for and a desire to stimulate thinking and sharing is a true gift.

  14. I think we all have emotion that varies and cycles with our life experiences. I agree on so many points here. Happiness is a choice. Our view of the world around us is vastly important. I also think it’s important to just be sad on occasion and honor that part of ourselves. However, we really don’t want to stay in that state for long and I have two primary remedies for sadness. Both have already been mentioned here, but they are the keys for me. Graditude and helping someone else. Doing a little volunteer work is nourishment to the soul. Sometimes it can be something as small as allowing a friend to vent over dinner and just sit with them in it for a while. Caring for and loving others I believe is the true path to happiness.

  15. I think of “contentment” as a connection to something outside of the self (“con” = “with”), whereas “happiness” is more of a state of mind. Granted, we could then explore whether there really is anything outside of the self–or whether detachment/separation from an-other is an illusion–but I guess what I’m getting at is that “contentment” more is about some sort of relationship and “happiness” is a self-experience.

  16. Knowing that I have all that I need at any given moment. That does it. When I have the guts to admit that I really do have that instead of seeking an explanation for what’s missing. Because that might not be accurate in the first place. Making my boys laugh tops my happiness list for sure. Thank you for a great post, Mark!

  17. I actually don’t believe that happiness and contentment are synonymous. I view happiness more as a fleeting emotion that is based on the particulars of an experience at any given moment in time. Contentment, in contrast, has a far deeper connection with the core of one’s soul and is, thus, more difficult to achieve. True contentment with one’s self and one’s life exists even in the midst of unhappiness. – Amanda

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