I was in a department store the other day when I saw a young mother trying to placate a crying two year old. Every parent has been there. She was able to appease the child with a bit of candy. Again, every parent has been there.

I could only think of how long this would last after the piece of candy was gone. Would the child’s outlook improve for the better? Or was this going to be a long ride home for that mother? The brief reprieve may be only short lived.

As adults we are faced with the same balance of what brings long term and short term happiness. We can sometimes get lost in the benefits of long term contentment. It helps us to grow and develop and appreciate what we have. Here are seven ways to recognize the benefits of each.

1. How You Look vs Who You Are

There is an old saying that clothes make the man. This makes a great advertising slogan, but it is only true on the surface. A nice suit is great at making a good first impression. Long lasting relations are dependent on you.

Developing your character in the way you act and interact has much more meaning. You are able to influence people around you and leave a lasting impression that a flashy car or nice clothes cannot.

2. Relationships Based On A Checklist

Some people seek to make friends or develop relationships based on a checklist. They think the best qualities are like making a grocery list. Good looks? Check! Sense of humor? Check! No job? Nope sorry!

Maybe there is safety in developing a list like this for looking for the perfect partner. The problem is there may not be a perfect one. Finding relationships that complement you and make you happy is what is important.

3. The Cool Crowd Or Your Caring Posse?

Someone once told me that an acquaintance will buy you drinks at a bar. But a real friend will drive you home when you cannot. There are people with a natural charisma who draw people to them. They can show you a good time or be the life of the party.

Can you rely on people like this when the chips are down? It’s great to have friends that want to have a good time but the ones that bring long term joy are those who have your back.

4. How Does Money Make You Happy?

Entrepreneurism has become prevalent in today’s business world. It is now easy to start a business with the Internet and technology. There are two different reasons why people pursue starting a business: to make money or fulfill a passion.

Making money is a necessity, but it is something that is used for basic needs. For more lasting joy, doing something you like needs to be considered. It is the fuel that drives you during stressful periods.

5. You Are What You Eat

Certain behaviors can trigger what we eat. The break up with a significant other can mean bringing out ice cream. A desire to lose weight promotes dieting for long term health. Various aspects of our lives can affect our food regimen.

Food may be something that comes to mind when discussing short term verses long term happiness, but it is such an important part of our lives and well being. It is the focal point of social engagements. It is a cornerstone of our health. Think about the food you eat and see if your eating habits satisfy immediate needs or are part of something important.

6. Spending Your Time Wisely Or Foolishly

Which of these describes you: sitting on the couch flipping through 200 channels claiming there is nothing on? Or making a family night out of watching a movie with members of your household? How you spend your time can make a big difference between short-term verses long-term happiness.

Time is a precious commodity. You can always make money but you cannot make time. Consider if you are using your time wisely or just going through the motions of life. Looking back, you may regret not taking advantage of it.

7. Taking Care Of Your Health Or Putting It Off

I, like many, do not see going to the doctor as a favorite activity. There are things you would rather be doing than sitting in a waiting room all morning, not to mention the lecture of not eating or exercising properly.

The fact is a few hours of what feels like an inconvenience is necessary. Your health is so important and keeping up on maintaining it means avoiding or minimizing serious health problems. It may feel okay to cancel appointments when you do not feel like going, but it could have ramifications if you blow it off long term.

Life is full of simple pleasures that bring happiness. Immediate gratification is common because it is simple and easy. But remember the bigger picture too as you consider the differences between short-term verses long term happiness in your life.

Featured photo credit: @Doug88888 via flickr.com

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