Pursuing Happiness

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Independence Day is an annual reminder of our freedom as Americans. It is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and now a patriotic celebration to hail our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With the holiday having just past, it made me think, am I taking full advantage of these rights? I mean within my own life, am I pursuing happiness?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines happiness as “a feeling or state of well-being and contentment.” Am I predominantly in a state of contentment? Furthermore, is contentment actually the state of happiness that I’m looking for or just really a watered down blasé version of it? Happiness to me is hours of laughter with good friends, the day you say “yes” to the person of your dreams, graduation day, being still. It’s when you feel like your insides are glowing so brightly that other people must be able to see it. But the real question is am I actively pursing this feeling? Better yet, are you?

Pondering this, I decided to do a little research on elevating happiness and here’s what I found to work:

Be Kind. When you start doing good, you feel good. For example, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a friend move, participate in a toy drive, or do a 5k for cancer research. There are a number of ways to give back to your community that will increase your level of happiness and enrich your life. The act of giving is a gift for the receiver and for yourself.

Travel. You have vacation days piling up; use them. Go away and experience a new culture, a new terrain, a new land. Immerse yourself in another language or do things you never thought you would do close to home. Hike a mountain (it can be small), sky dive, go camping and get far away from the technology that rules your everyday life. Whatever you do, get lost in the experience.

Start Eating Well. Visit your local grocer or farmer’s market and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. Research published in 2013 discovered that on days when young adults ate more fruit, they had higher levels of happiness. The study concluded that eating more servings of “fruits and vegetables may actually promote emotional well-being.”

Finally Forgive. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. Letting go of disappointment and angry thoughts and replacing them with positive ones is vital to your personal happiness. Letting go allows you to be who you really are. It lifts the fog over your mind and your heart. There are a number of ways to do this, I found a great article on where to start and what to do to get to a place of forgiveness: http://bit.ly/1HMKJcz

Stop Over-Analyzing. Quiet your mind. Whether it’s with yoga or meditation, a kick boxing class, church, or reading a book, get out of your own thoughts for a while. See a bigger picture and don’t spend so much time dwelling on your own personal problems. There is so much to be grateful for. Stop comparing yourself to others and savor all of the good that you currently have in your life.

Now that we have this knowledge, let’s go after the American Dream and pursue the true happiness that we all deserve.