Pursuing happiness has become a cliché not just because it’s overused, but also because we misunderstand it and go about it all wrong.
When the authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence penned that Americans have the right to “the pursuit of happiness” they meant we have the right to occupy our lives with moral and spiritual activities that would lead to the well-being of humanity. Their view of happiness was not limited to accumulating material items and fulfilling personal desires.
There was no right to be happy, but rather the right to practice moral lives that would contribute to the good of us all.
Well, not quite all of us.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with changing the original phrase from “life, liberty and property” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This change is certainly more lyrical and appealing, but since it didn’t really apply to many Americans at the time, it wasn’t as broad as some think.
In fact, Jefferson’s property at the time included about 200 slaves. Since he certainly didn’t allow them to pursue any definition of happiness, he might as well have left the word “property” in the document.
On the surface, many of us claim that we believe happiness is well-being and feeling good about ourselves. In actuality, however, too many of us still seek happiness from material solutions and possessions. Even though we’ve been let down repeatedly by the quickly-fading high we get from new possessions, we still pursue them. We even cheat, lie and kill to accumulate things.
Let me quickly point out that I’m not suggesting that owning material possessions is bad or that it’s better to be poor than wealthy. Not at all. On the contrary, research has revealed that people who nurture their inner well-being first are more likely to reduce their stress, enjoy satisfying relationships, and make more money.
How can you create happiness that begins on the inside before it shows up in our outside lives?
Here are five ways to start.
Henrik Edberg on The Positivity Blog
5 Powerful Steps to Help You Let Go and Feel Less Pain
Learning to let go of something in your past, of something that is just an unimportant distraction or of trying to control what you cannot control can free up huge amounts of the energy and the time you have to use for something better and more fulfilling.
Provide warmth for a stranger
Nadine Kalinauskas | Good News at ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs
Good Samaritans Leave Scarves for the Homeless in Canadian, U.S. Cities
Some Good Samaritans are helping warm the homeless (and scarf-less) this winter by leaving scarves and hats wrapped around poles, fire hydrants and lamp posts in chilly cities across North America.
Learn to enjoy being alone
Tony Robinson on LifeHack.org
When You Start Being Alone, These 10 Things Will Happen
Some people think of “being alone” as a bad thing. It either means you’re anti-social, or unwanted, neither of which are a good position to be in.
But actually, being alone isn’t’ necessarily a bad thing, as there are a handful of benefits that emerge once you learn to embrace solitude.
Linda Luke on Life Coach Linda
From Clutter to Clarity–A Client Story
My client Carol came to me for support with some big decisions to be made with her upcoming retirement. She felt unclear and overwhelmed as to what to do.
The situation became even more interesting when during our first call she described her life as “itchy”. I hadn’t heard that one before, so I asked her to tell me more. She shared that her home felt like a burden instead of a sanctuary, volunteer work and other obligations were filling up her time, and she didn’t feel like there was space for her in her own life.
View discontent as your call to action
Flora M. Brown on Barbara Ardinger.com
Discontent Can Be Your Savior
The moment you realize you’re not satisfied with a situation, person, job, location, or even yourself, your mind gets to work—processing ways to get out, over, or around it. If you don’t heed the solutions that bubble to the surface, then your discontent will only grow.
A common habit and often our default reaction when things don’t go our way is to reenact the situation over and over in our heads. We then call, email, or text our friends reliving the wrong, and maligning the perpetrator. These reactions may give temporary relief, but they are not helpful in the long run.
Guard your happiness with positive habits.
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