There are many ways of defining happiness, and we can all perceive happiness in different ways. Let me start by sharing how my definition of happiness has changed over the years. When I was a little kid I saw happiness as freedom to do anything I wanted. I enjoyed playing with friends, practicing tennis, and overall being very active, I was happy. As time went by, my priorities shifted and the meaning of happiness changed. This cycle goes on and on. It is important to understand the true meaning of happiness, and not only temporary happiness, but everlasting happiness. As I said before, the meaning of happiness is different for everyone, but why is that? Isn't happiness something we all want? Shouldn't it be our end goal in life?
Let's start by defining the word happiness. I like a definition by Curtis Martin (CEO of FOCUS). He tells us "Happiness is different; it is the reason we act. if you think about it, happiness is almost always why we do what we do. We want to be happy; it is as though we were made for happiness". We are truly made for happiness, but happiness does not come by itself, we must "build" happiness with actions. Our daily actions, either good or bad, will determine if we achieve true everlasting happiness or not. Think about how you live your life, are you making every decision with true everlasting happiness in mind? if not, what is stopping you?
Happiness is not found in material possessions, and sometimes not even in our biggest accomplishments. Maybe I should say, they give limited happiness, not everlasting happiness. So, how can achieve full everlasting happiness? To truly be happy we must understand two simple facts: (1) happiness depends on us and only us and (2) our desires must match our actions. Happiness is built upon our good actions, the selfless good actions. By doing small things consistently well, we are able to grow spiritually. We are destined to love one another, that is human nature, and only through true love and good actions we can build our happiness. When I say happiness depends on us, I truly mean it.
When I reflect back into my life, I can now see that true happiness didn't come from that big tennis tournament I won, the end of a hard semester at college, or a championship of our favorite sports team. That happiness has a limited lifetime, and after is gone we are left with an empty space in our hearts. True happiness only comes from selfless actions, actions that get us closer to heaven. The smallest actions of kindness constantly fill our hearts little by little until we reach true everlasting happiness. One of my favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta is "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." This quote to me says it all, true happiness lies in the smallest decisions that we take on a daily basis, those guided by love. Love may be defined as a feeling, but it truly is an action, a selfless desire for the good of someone else. And through that love, we can get true everlasting happiness.
I will be writing about love in the future, in the meantime, live your life one decision at a time and don't forget to do small things with great love.