What is your definition of happiness?
The positive feelings we experience as a result of happy thoughts, experiences, memories. Happiness can range from exuberant joy to quiet contentment.
What’s something you know about happiness now that you did not know at 25 years old?
Is there anything you find yourself repeatedly doing that gets in the way of your happiness?
Negative self talk has declined as I have grown older but I still give myself negative messages that are hurtful. I have to quash these as they are destructive and will get in the way of my usefulness to myself and other people, leading to zero happiness for anyone!!!!
Have you always felt about the same level of happiness or have you been through a period where you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy – if so, why?
I was depressed in my late teens, around age 19. I felt confused and had no goal for my life. I received counseling which helped a great deal. Eventually, I chose a major in college and my life was off and running. I would have to say that I have experienced the greatest degree of happiness in the last several years. I have changed some activities in my life that have allowed me to live with more purpose and awareness. I try to do more good and require less to feel happy, grateful and content. I have been very blessed and try not to forget that.
Is there anything you see people around you doing or saying that seems to add or conversely, detract from their happiness?
Yes, I see people increasing their opportunity for happiness by saying “yes” to opportunities they might have been inclined to reject. We only get out from experiences what we put in. If we fail to put ourselves out there, we can’t discover and enjoy those benefits. Conversely, many people seem to cling to negative, self doubting, and pity filled belief systems. These are happiness killers. We create our own reality to a large degree. If we repeatedly use negative language and make negative affirmations, we are not likely to experience joy, gratitude, or happiness.
Have you ever been surprised by something you thought would make you very happy – and didn’t? Or vice versa?
As I have grown older, I have realized that my most treasured memories and desired activities are memories of raising my girls and spending time with them now that they are grown. External factors such as looks, money, and material things may provide temporary pleasure, but the joy of feeling healthy, laughing with old and new friends, reminiscing and laughing with your brothers, listening to your 3 daughters squealing in hysterical laughter, petting your very chubby, cat, as she sprawls in ecstasy across your lap, and smiliing with your husband at a memory that only the two of you, in the whole world knows, are the true gifts that bring happiness. These are the blessings that life brings.
What is your advice for 20-somethings?
My advice is to do nice things for other people. Give compliments, be kind, intentionally let someone into your lane even though you want to speed up, call your Mom or Dad and just say Hi, say “yes” when you want to say “no” at least once a week, contribute to something that will not benefit you directly and don’t tell anyone you did. We build up reserves by sending good into the world. Then the happiness shows up and it doesn’t come in a package from Amazon- it just appears.
(Questions 3-6 were inspired by Gretchen Rubin through her happiness project blog: www.thehappiness-project.com).