Understand that happiness is not a cure for all of life’s ills.

Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.

Some people enjoy their lives to the fullest, but most of us can’t get there nearly as much as we would like to. Many people will tell themselves they’re “holding up” or “getting through it,” and of course, when asked, “How are you?” they will say “Fine” when they aren’t. FINE can stand for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional, which kind of says it all.

I know this may be a contrarian thought, but just to exist, even on a tropical isle, isn’t enough for me. I know that I enjoy succeeding at life. Those of us who share this quirk have a harder time than the multitudes of humans who go through their days not thinking about tomorrow or how to make the world a better place. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those thoughts occupy most of my thinking, but I do know that I am not alone, and millions of people I will never meet seek the same goals.

I think it was my generation that made happiness a part of our social/emotional culture. These days, it almost feels that if you are not wallowing in happiness, then you are doing something wrong, and that just isn’t true.

Research has shown that just like people have different intelligence (IQ) levels, they also have differing happiness levels. I have friends who seem to have it all but are unhappy, and I know others who have next to nothing but are happier than most of the other people I know. One of my closest friends is a happy person. He was happy when he was broke, and he is happy living the good life. It’s just who he has always been. The question that needs to be asked is are you living up to your happiness potential, and if not, what can you do to get there?

The first step is to get honest with yourself. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to increase your happiness or if you are satisfied with where your life is at the moment. Many people are content, and that’s another way of being happy.

If you are dealing with depression, looking for happiness (versus peace of mind) can be a trap. It keeps you from seeing the natural joys that are in all our lives. You may not be able to see them just now, but keep the idea in mind, and when the next gorgeous sunset comes your way, stop for one minute and take in the beauty.

Also understand that happiness is not a cure for all of life’s ills. We have to work and help others who need it while also caring for our loved ones and ourselves. One thing I can tell you for sure: when you are happy (or content), it’s contagious, and it will help those around you.

Remember too that the opposite also holds true. You don’t want to unload your sadness on those you love, but if you need to talk to your mate about your feelings, please do so. It could make you both understand your behaviors and help to heal an uncomfortable circumstance. Never forget that your partner is not your therapist, and if you need more help, please call someone.


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