When parents are asked what they want for their kids, the most popular answer is:

    “I just want my kids to be happy.”


    Look deeply at what you really want in life, it may turn out to be:



    Happiness is one of those emotions that gets thrown around quite often.  People find it hard to explain exactly what it is or to tell you how to be happier than you are now.


    So what is happiness and how can we be happier than we are now?


    I recently read a book called Florish by Martin Seligman.  He provides 5 pillars that make up the framework for what most people call happiness.  I am going to share his thoughts (5 pillars) with you in this blog, as I found them very realistic and helpful.




    Feelings such as joy, optimism, hope, delight, satisfaction, appreciation…are what most people think of when they think about being happy.

    Positive emotions are manifested physically by the ever-popular smile!


    But happiness is more than just feelings.


    An Olympic athlete that trains hard every day is probably not experiencing positive emotions during practice.  It is not until he wins the gold medal that he displays his happy feelings.  Positive feelings usually come after a lot of hard work, not during.

    Think of a time when you were practicing for something (a performance, a competition, etc).  Really bring yourself back to that moment when you were just repeatedly doing the same thing over and over with mixed results.  Would you say you felt happy during that practice?  Probably not but at the same time you did experience something “good”.  The “good” that you experienced is one of the other pillars of happiness.

    Setting goals for yourself has the same effect, it is so important to continuously set and achieve goals for ourselves and our children.


    Adopt the physical aspects of positive emotions – smiling, acting energetically and enthusiastic and looking at the bright side of everything.




    Have you ever lost track of time because you were so absorbed in an activity?

    You were so focused on the activity that you couldn’t recall your thoughts or feelings?

    If so, then you were probably happy.


    When you are engaged in what you are doing, you experience happiness.

    For many people, being engaged is their happy place.  They don’t need to be smiling or feel any positive emotions.  They just recognize that they are happy.


    How can you be more engaged in life?

    .           Identify your strengths

    .           Learn to use them – (the ones that give you the most energy and excitement)




    Research shows that connecting with others and building and keeping strong

    bonds make people happy.  Think about your happiness level the last time you got accepted to a group you really wanted to join (school, work, sports team, social etc.)

    In this age of social media, it’s easy to have a lot of “friends” and “connections”.  As with all things, quality is more important than quantity.  If you asked yourself, “Who will I still be friends with in 5 years time”?

    You will automatically choose those friends you know you can count on, the friends who accept you as yourself, the friends you could trust with your life.


    Build stronger relationships by giving without keeping score.  Listen to what people want and find ways to help them get it. Just be there for them, whenever they may need you.


    A friend of mine was speaking at her mother’s funeral recently and said;

    “People often said how lucky my mum was to have so many friends.  I believe it has nothing to do with luck and a lot to do with effort. Being a true friend takes a lot of effort.  There is nothing more important in this life than friendship – make the effort. It has to be a two way street.”




    Many people see someone else’s fortune and luck as taking away from their own fortune and luck.  Not surprisingly, people who feel this way are suspicious and selfish.  They also tend to be less happy even if they are already well off.


    If you want to be happy, give your life meaning by serving or belonging to something bigger than yourself.  Join a cause you believe in and get involved.


    Most wealthy and successful people become heavily involved with philanthropy in the second half of their lives.  They give their time and money for the greater good of others.  The desire for meaning in their life, is what can give people the need to do this.  They do it to benefit someone other than themselves.




    Every time you achieve in your life, you feel happy.  Whether it is achievement in academia, family, charity or sport, you achieve – you feel happy.

    Again the importance of setting goals and achieving them.


    What can you do to strengthen this last pillar?

    .           Do your best always.

    .           Strive for excellence.

    .           Practice deliberately


    Skill is something you have and can be further developed but it is not something you do.

    Fortunately, you can control your effort, which will boost your achievement by multiples.


    “Nothing worthwhile in life, comes easy”



    We can all choose to be happy.  Life may throw things at us, but it is up to us how we choose to deal with them.


    I once worked with a young woman who was always smiling early in the morning.  I asked her how was it she always looked so happy?


    She told me; one day her mum was getting out of bed and said how she wished she didn’t have to get up.  Her dad (who was terminally ill at the time) said how he wished he could get up, if only one more time.

    She said she recalls this to herself any time she may be feeling down and has learnt to appreciate life to the full, each and every day.


    “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

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