Are you happy? It is a question that I get asked from time to time, and this week I was asked twice! So I thought I might take a moment to discuss the reasons that I don’t really have a great yes/no answer to that question.
I have never really been too focused on being ‘happy’, perhaps as a defence mechanism to events in my life, I took out the need for super-high highs, in order to take out the opportunity for super-low lows. Paying more attention to how I lived my life and who I am, rather than focusing on what is going on at any particular individual point in time. I would say that by and large I live a life that I am happy with, a life that keeps me content, based on me having the opportunities to act in a way that matters to me.
When it comes to happiness, there are few kinds of situations that might be the focus of what many people call ‘being happy’. There is feeling joy in the Current Moment, there is feeling inspired for Future Possibility and there is a pride that one feels reflecting on Past Achievement. There is also a kind of contentment that comes from Consistent Character throughout the entire process.
A lot of people consider happiness to be the feeling of joy in the current moment, while I think I derive more satisfaction from the constant attempt to live a life of consistent character.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson believes that happiness relies on four elements.
In asking ‘are you happy’ I believe a lot of people associate a positive state as the primary example of happiness. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of three other pillars of happiness. I have developed an ability to bounce back from negative states through years of having to develop that resilience. My negative states rarely get too deep, and even more rarely hang around for longer than a day or two. I am constantly working on ways to improve my ability to focus, routine, effort and a drive to improve the world help keep that on track (even though I lose my way from time to time). My entire life, The Just Be Nice Project, my other businesses, my personal development, is all about improving my capacity (and the capacity of others) to be generous, and help people in a meaningful way.
I might not reach the absolute peaks of positivity regularly, but I am absolutely working on the four pillars of happiness every, single, day.
The idea that we deserve a life that is full of outrageous joy every single day has always seemed crazy to me. Tough times are just as important as the good ones. Without the juxtaposition of light and dark we wouldn’t know the difference between the two.
I have always been amazed at how beautiful things are in the half light. As the sun sets, we get the ‘golden hour’. The beauty of life lies in contrast, in the difference between shadow and light, blemishes become highlights, boring landscapes reveal their depth in these moments. I believe life and my own feelings of happiness and contentment to function the same way.
It is not to say that I never experience joy, or even significant joy, but no one lives at the top of the mountain. Once you get there, you are ecstatic with your achievement, you have a unique view and a special moment just for you…. But those heights do not support life full-time.
..no one lives at the top of the mountain.
You descend again, to once more make plans for another big adventure. I find joy in the planning, in the journey, in the achievement and in doing it with a character that I strive to be proud of, every single day.
Take pleasure in the journey, the achievement and the moment. Build yourself into a person that you can be proud of in every situation. Learn to focus, to not only be positive, but to bounce back from being negative and always look to improve your understanding of others so you can improve your capacity to be generous and of course, Just Be Nice.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports