How to Find Happiness

We all want to be happy. Few would disagree. However, the question is, what is the source of happiness? We’ve been socialized to believe it has to do with:

  • Money
  • Possessions
  • Status
  • Power
  • Talent
  • Beauty
  • Achievement
  • Recreation
  • The “right” partner
  • Other people doing what we want

For example, we hold a belief that people who have more money are happier than those who have less. People who live in a big house, achieve more, or take more vacations are happier than those who do not. We are driven by an implicit belief, in our society today, that “more is better.”

Even if we don’t compare ourselves to others, we often times live from this belief within our own lives. I remember my last year of graduate school. I was earning no more than $500 per month and yearned to graduate so I could make decent money. Then I’d be happy. Before long it happened. We moved from Minnesota to Ft. Collins, Colorado and in a matter of a few weeks I was bringing in a couple thousand a month. Wow, that was cool. But I looked around and realized that my business partner and other professionals were doing much better. My goal became $3000. That’s all I’d need. I’d never ask for anything more. That would enable us to get into a house and then I’d really be happy. It wasn’t long. We got into a house. Soon my goal became $4000, then $5000, then six figures. Then we could get into a nicer house and really have it made. You get the point.

Same with a car. My first car was a 1967 Plymouth Fury that I bought from my grandfather for a few dollars. I thought I was hot stuff, until I saw a friend driving a Firebird. I needed a better car. Then it became an even better car, a Mercedes. Then a BMW… (which I never have owned). But you get the point. The excitement always lasted for a time and then would wear off and I’d be looking around for the next “thing” or experience to make me happy.

Of course, I need to say that there is nothing wrong with having aspirations and seeking success. As a matter of fact, it is how we learn and eventually achieve mastery in our lives. The problem occurs when we believe these symbols are synonymous with happiness. At some point, many people come to the realization that external success does not automatically lead to happiness, high self-esteem, and fulfillment (internal measures of success).

In fact, if we make externals our primary measures or source of happiness we find ourselves in a world in which we’re never satisfied. No matter how much we have, achieve, or accomplish we sense that something is missing. We are living from a scarcity mentality, always comparing our lot in life to others and forever aware of what we lack rather than appreciating the blessings and goodness of life.

In order to be happy it is not necessary to give up wealth, status, recreation, etc.  However, it is necessary to give up the belief that these are the primary source of satisfaction in life. As long as our lives are set up on the premise that these will bring happiness, we’ve given up responsibility for the quality of our lives to what is without rather than what is within. As Eric Hoffer said,

 “You can never get enough of what
you don’t need to make you happy.”

So where does happiness come from? What is your experience? Share your thoughts. And I’ll explore more in the future, sharing not only my thoughts but also what the research says.


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

13 responses to “How to Find Happiness”

  1. Al Curatolo says:

    Hi Rodger were living in phila.. now got something to add money is cheep your health is your health have a great day Al Curatolo

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Al,

      There’s not much more important your health. You know like few others. Thanks for your comment.

      Roger

  2. Paul says:

    I have a friend who at one point Forbes estaimated his net worth at $840 Million. He said to me one day he would give up everything he had to have my life.

    His point was money didn’t buy him happiness!

  3. Sandra Rush says:

    Happiness is developed from within. It is ‘earned’ by being willing to look at your life and your choices; celebrating what IS presently working; evaluating what is not working; then making different choices and changes, one baby step at a time, to the things YOU control, while letting go of the things you do NOT control.

    • Roger Allen says:

      A great formula for success Sandra. How many of us celebrate what is working? How often do we take all our blessings and the abundance of our lives for granted and only focus on what is not working, and then to complain rather than make new choices?

  4. Melrin Jenson says:

    I think the key is “you can’t get enough of the things you don’t need.”

    Having enough of the things I need has made life comfortable and peaceful. We do have a need to have enough of the basics to take away the worries of the current and future times.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Sure. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we all have certain survival needs that must be met if we’re to grow and progress and there certainly are millions (maybe billions) of people in this world who are wanting at a very basic level. But even some who have these needs met continue to worry about the future. Some of this is valid, especially in the times we are living now. The question is how do we convert our worries and continually anxiety into productive action and learn to trust the goodness of life and God.

  5. jennifer Johnson says:

    I think an epiphany for me came when I realized what a beautiful process living life is–doing the best with what I have and that the character development and love and other beautiful rewards of life are available to all!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Well said, Jennifer. I love that thought–the best with what I have. Life isn’t about comparing.

  6. Diane Nolen says:

    I’ll never forget what you taught us in HDI “Making things Happen”. “Happiness is an inside job”. Our happiness is not dependent on wealth, power, status in the church or community, what others think of us, who we’re married to, etc. It comes from our inner core, our belief that we are a valued Child of God. Those who are driven by external forces ie wealth, fame, popularity, etc. are insatiable, because that is not what creates true happiness. As was stated in a recent talk, “We should not pray for a change of circumstances, rather we should pray for a change of heart” (or something to that effect).

    • Roger Allen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Diane. “Happiness is an inside job.” How often we wait for circumstances to change and end up waiting and waiting and giving away our happiness.

  7. zed says:

    did you found it?… your happiness?

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