In recent times I have become obsessed with happiness. I want to be happy, all the time. I want to be able to turn to happiness in the face of adversity. I want the noise of life to be drown out by the tranquility of happy. I want to guard against anger, frustration, exhaustion, short-sightedness, jealousy and idleness.
A couple of weeks ago I heard Michael J. Fox speak about life’s challenges. He talked about how useless it is to worry about things that might or might not happen. He suggests that problems rarely go down as you imagine they will, and if by some fluke they do, you will have lived through them twice.
I don’t want to live trouble twice, so I have found that I need activities to do as a stop gap to prevent my mind from turning to trouble. I sometimes wonder if unhappiness is an addiction since it seems so easy to brood, look for the worst in others and generally, to fall into a habit of being unhappy.
I’ve made a lot of changes in my life to support my own happiness. I’ve found that keeping my calendar full of experiences helps me stay happy. I’ve found that I’m happy when I’m working on goals. For example, just last night my husband and I were walking in the neighbourhood and I found an old window frame set out for the garbage truck. I asked myself what I could do with it if I rescued it. Lately I’ve taken a lot of pictures of old barns and decided the window frame could be used as a picture frame. I started feeling happier and excited about the act of creating the end piece but I also felt happy because the times and locations where I was in proximity of those old barns made me happy.
I find myself happy when there’s no one but me, hubby and the dog. I’ve found happiness when things are challenging physically. My end-to-end walk of the Bruce Trail is my current physical challenge.
Am I happy overall now? Wow, that’s a tough question. I can say that I am happier than I’ve ever been but I still find myself measuring my happiness against the happiness level in others, and realizing that I think they might be happier. That’s a good example of the imperfection of happiness.
Indeed, I think it is difficult to be happy in HR. In HR we see the best and worst in people. It is hard to be happy when you see people make poor decisions or like to gripe or overly focus on problems. Do we realize that our own state of mind impacts others? It is funny what people expect of us HR folk. They want us to be nice but not too nice. Positive but not too bubbly. Professional but not cold. Friendly but not a friend. Helpful but not invasive. Genuine but not too genuine. We have to be free of vices, bad habits or a poor sense of style.
We have to be resourceful. . .
With all those mixed messages, and so many buts. . .how do we get happy and stay happy?
The truth is that I don’t really know. It might take the rest of my life to figure this out.
Lately I’ve been using downtime to ponder questions about happiness. I am sharing them and encouraging feedback from others about them. Please read and comment if you wish.
What does it take to be happy?
Is happiness a choice?
Can you fake it until you feel it?
What’s the difference between happiness and joy?
Is happiness related to mental health? Can you medicate your way to happiness?
Is happiness genetic?
Is happiness infectious?
Is happiness a by-product of luck?
If you’re happy and you know it should you clap your hands? If yes, why?
Are there specific categories of things that trigger happiness?
Can you be happy even when many things in life aren’t going your way?
I look forward to the dialogue.
Bonni Titgemeyer CEBS, SPHR, CHRL, CMS, SHRM-SCP is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. and founder of The EO List blog. She is a well-known entity in the total compensation and organizational effectiveness fields, and has highly-sought after experience in the global arena.