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Real Happiness

How do we find real happiness?

 

A big question one cannot really answer for another. 

However, a growing body of evidence* suggests the short answer is relationships

 

Of course, I realise you may be reading this because of relationship pain. That's the flip-side of joy and deep satisfaction being found in relationships; when they fail or start to dismantle - it really hurts! For better or worse (as most therapists will tell you) relationships are both the cause and cure of many people's problems.

 

So, it's about striving for healthy relationships. This however is not so simple. Firstly, they are talking about relationships with:

• yourself (how you evaluate and view yourself)

• others (from 'close & loving' to 'distant & problematic') 
• and the 'world' (your work/life context, culture, nature etc.)

 

Secondly, when they say 'healthy' it generally refers to the ongoing 'journey' of developing and nurturing these relationships - rather than achieving a 'destination' or relationship goal. We are simply biologically wired to find happiness in moving forward - in constant challenge, change and growth. We tend to embrace this idea for career progression and physical fitness, less so for relationship health.

It seems the training adage “to sit still is to go backwards” applies to many aspects of life.

Finally, what is it they suggest we are ‘journeying’ towards? The consensus points to three ‘pillars’: 

1. Experiencing and sharing simple pleasures (from a warm blanket to fun activities).

2. Developing natural character strengths and virtues (in yourself and others)

3. Finding meaning and purpose (in ‘something’ that promotes greater ‘goodness’ in the world). This can range from self-development, to supporting a cause, to existential or spiritual advancements.

To sum, keeping yourself, others and the world moving forward – in connected and loving relationships – is the key to real happiness. While this journey is difficult and sometimes painful, it’s also deeply satisfying; one of the many paradoxes of being human.

 

*recent psychotherapeutic and neuroscience research, collective and historical wisdom (e.g. Buddhist & Christian spirituality, Philosophical thought etc.) and anecdotal evidence (e.g. from transformational and inspirational mentors or leaders)

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