“When I was young, I admired old people.
Now that I’m old, I admire wise people.
When I was a youth, I admired strong people.
Now that I’m old, I admire meek people.
When I was an adult, I admired wealthy people.
Now that I’m old, I admire happy people.” ~Matshona Dhliwayo
Since the beginning of time, humans across the globe have been pursuing singular goals: first it was sex, then it was money, now it is happiness. From the executive on Wall Street, to the sheepherder on the rural plains of Kenya, to the stay-at-home mother in China, all of us have been driven by the ceaseless desire to be happy.
What we eat, wear, and do are all expressions of our pursuit of happiness. So are the books we buy, the shows we watch, and the relationships we pursue. But, if humanity has searched for it since the beginning, how come happiness has been elusive? Should we not have found it? After all, we have gone to the moon, cured fatal diseases, and made countless discoveries in every field you can think of. Knowledge undeniably has increased, but the reality is that happiness has not.
This inspired my long, uncertain journey to find out the secrets to happiness. Day after day, month after month, I sat before scientists, saints, and sages – intellectual and spiritual heavyweights, ancient and contemporary.
Scientists said pleasure was the key, sages said relationships, while saints said work and a few said self-denial. While I found truth in many of their points, after much contemplation, I remembered the story of King Solomon, who according to the Bible was the wisest and richest man in history. He had all of the above, but he despaired in the end: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” His pursuit of happiness ended miserably, as he was focused on his mind and body but at times forgot to nurture his soul. I came to the conclusion that, as humans being composed of mind, body, and soul, we must nurture all three to achieve our highest happiness.
Mind – You cannot live a happy life with sad thoughts. Timeless wisdom states that we become what we think. It therefore goes without saying that happy thoughts contribute to creating a happy life.
Body – Research has shown that the brain produces serotonin, a chemical contributing to our happiness and wellbeing. When we exercise, our bodies also produce endorphins, chemicals that reduce stress and diminish our perception of pain. Clearly, when we take good care of our bodies, our bodies take good care of us.
Soul – Researchers have been dumbfounded after finding that there is a relationship between healing and having a higher power. Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D, said: “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick – and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.” The soul is the highest part of us, and if it’s nurtured, everything else – happiness, fulfillment and lasting joy – falls into place.
To help you on your happiness journey, below are ten insights I conjured up. Enjoy!
- What you seek for others you find for yourself.
- A heart full of joy is better than a hand full of coins.
- Pebbles that bring you joy are better than diamonds that bring you sorrow.
- When bad things happen to you, become wiser, not bitter.
- The beauty that is in you is greater than the ugliness that is around you.
- If you go to bed angry, you have robbed yourself of a chance to wake up happy.
- Letting go of sorrow gives you enough strength to carry happiness.
Letting go of anger gives you enough strength to carry kindness.
Letting go of fear gives you enough strength to carry hopefulness.
Letting go of resentment gives you enough strength to carry gratefulness.
Letting go of disappointment gives you enough strength to carry joyfulness.
Letting go of avarice gives you enough strength to carry contentedness.
- Love subtracts sorrow, divides trouble, adds blessings, and multiplies joy.
- Happiness cannot be bought by money, cannot be acquired by degrees, cannot be realized by power, and cannot be earned by honor; but it can be won by kindness, gained by charity, attained by goodness, and achieved by love.
- Pleasure will make you happy for days. Wealth will make you happy for weeks. Honor will make you happy for years. Love will make you happy for a lifetime.