“Money can’t buy happiness.” We’ve heard it before, and at this dawn of “mindfulness” era (yes, the world and our perspectives are changing), people are less and less inclined to argue this statement.
It remains, nonetheless, that we would like to believe that there are certain things that make us happy. Is it a fallacy to think so, or is it more commonly our figures of speech leading us to confusion about our true state of happiness?
Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog. My name is Xavier Van de Lanotte, strategy consultant, writer and speaker. My interest resides in “strategy” and “success and happiness”, which isn’t coincidental.
From my perspective, both subjects spawn from a same logical approach, which is about making sense out of what we, humans, do, whether it is to sustain our existence through our professions, or to manage other aspects of our lives. If a corporation creates customer value to rationalize its existence, then we, individually, rationalize our lives through our purpose. My focus is to help optimize the processes that lead to the achievement of the best possible outcomes for both, people and companies.
Today I’d like to examine what the “act” of “being happy” may, or may not entail, as it doesn’t always add up to what we believe it is, or, at least, the way we talk about it. Why should this matter to us? It matters if we care to have a greater awareness about ourselves and our environment and put what we do with our lives into proper perspective; i.e.: to have a deep understanding of our purpose and our process.
“I’m retired, Xavier. I take care of my home and garden, and I visit with my grandchildren, and that makes me happy,” my always-jovial neighbor told me, recently.
“At the end of a day at the office, I’m happy to get home and pour a glass of wine for me and my husband, and I cook a meal we enjoy at the table with our kids ,” I overheard a woman say at a cocktail party, two weeks ago.
“Don’t get me wrong, my kids are my source of happiness…, I’d do anything for them. But this is my ‘me’ time I get to enjoy three times a week,” a member at my gym told me last month.
“Man, I’m so happy! I’ve finally fixed up my boat and I’m taking it out to go fish on the bay with some friends, this weekend. You should come sometime,” an acquaintance told me, earlier this summer.
All of these quotes sound marvelously exciting. They bring us joy. They help us get through the day. They illustrate all the wonderful things for which we are grateful. They testify to the fact that life offers more than the daily grind at the workplace and the headaches we put up with, day after day, year after year. And they remind us that we have others in our lives to love, to connect with, and to share things with, the good and the bad. It’s great! We could have been much worse off…
Sadly enough, they are also indicative that something may be missing. There isn’t enough money (ever—LOL). We can’t spend all of our time with the grandchildren or the children—they have lives too. How much time of our year are we actually fishing in the bay with our friends, floating on our prized possession? Will the change in marital status really fill our lives with bliss? And aren’t we a bit too old to have moved into a fixer-upper, if our homes and gardens take up this much of our time in retirement?
At some point, we could admit that these wonderful things in our lives provide necessary breaks in the lives we live the rest of the time. And when we consider it this way, can we still say that we are truly happy? Can we be happy just part of the time; certain times of the day, certain periods of the year, or from the time we get engaged until sometime after our honeymoon is but a distant memory? Can our happiness really be contingent on our affections for other people, key events or achievements, or our possessions?
Well, if we removed all those wonderful actions or possessions from our lives, would we still be happy?
Why can’t we be happy without those things?
We should be Happy all of the Time, with or without those Things.
In a survey, the following question was asked: Which one of these brings you the most happiness?
- Helping others
- Following your dreams
- Making the world a better place
- Caring for loved ones
The answers to choose from are suggestive of the nature of the things we believe are embedded in our purpose. Each entails wonderful things to embrace, but none are sources of happiness, per se. However, the pursuit of our purpose can in fact be a source of happiness.
Actions, people or things cannot be sources of happiness, nor can their absence be sources of unhappiness. Happiness resides in our satisfaction with what we do with our lives; the fulfillment of a purpose, elaborate, humble, noble or commonplace it may be. If we do what is required to achieve that level of satisfaction, in effect, we choose to embrace our happiness.
While it is conceivable that owning a boat, fishing, raising kids and grandkids, getting married or caring for our homes is the single most important thing in our lives right now, it is unlikely that our purpose and principal reason for our entire existence can be reduced to that and that alone.
The concept—and feeling—of Happiness is profoundly rooted within our capacity to love and our ability to be at peace. But love and peace do not procure happiness; they are necessary ingredients of it. Only with the added fulfillment of our purpose can we embrace true happiness, through the knowledge that what we spend our time doing effectively satisfies the achievement of what we are supposed to do with our lives.
In reply to the survey question above, the answer choices are indivisible, from my perspective. No matter how I cut it, what I do in the fulfillment of my purpose, transpires in my achievement of all four objectives.
We can all think of our purpose in such fashion, as all things done, rooted in love and with the aspiration to be at peace, will result in the betterment of the world, will be of use and service to others, and will support our desire to care for our loved ones, materially, emotionally and spiritually.
To choose only one reply to the question of happiness, I must say: “2. Follow your Dream—Final answer.”
Thank you for sharing your answer to the survey question and providing your perspective about what makes you happy in a comment, below. Different suggestions will help others develop their view points. Also, please, think of this blog as my advertisement of what I do (my purpose) and let me know whether my marketing efforts (this being my Vth entry) are of value to you. How can I improve my posts to be of greater value and use to you, and inspire you to add “A Dash of Greatness” to your lives?
I wish you and yours much Success and Happiness, ahead. For more ideas and strategies on awareness, our potential, our success and happiness, please consult Our X Factor, available everywhere in paperback and e-format and at http://www.ourxfactor.com/.
Xavier Van de Lanotte, Author
We all have an X factor…
Bookmark every day with Success and Happiness.
About Our X Factor
Our X Factor features a unique three-pronged approach to achieve success and happiness every day—Awareness, Making it Happen, Making it Count.
It is rich with quotations, references, stories, examples and anecdotes that highlight throughout the book the behavioral, psychological and philosophical aspects of our quest for success and happiness.
An X factor is the quality that bestows unique characteristics leading to the achievement of extraordinary successes and spectacular accomplishments, among other amazing things.
Yet we all have an X factor, without exceptions! Our X Factor guides us through an exciting, informative and enlightening journey, and shows us how to be GREAT!
We were all born ordinary people. Yet we can lead extraordinary lives!