What Makes Us Happy?

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

“What Makes Us Happy?” explores true inner happiness and gives you some real tools to find it within, completely irrespective of your external circumstances.

Today, we want to take another look at a topic we’ve discussed a couple times before, however, this time, we are going to dig deeper and ask better questions.I’ve got an amazing TED Talk to point you to and a book by the same speaker. This subject couldn’t be more EWC-centric.

Image: collage of EWC article photos

You may know that I founded this website – everwideningcircles.com – in March of 2014 to be the polar opposite of the negative 24-hour news cycle. We feature positive news about every subject under the sun, and now have 45,000 visitors a month from 190 countries, and get more than 500 new facebook fans per day from around the globe! Turns out people from most cultures were sick of the fear, shame and negativity in the media.

As of Sept. 15, 2015, we are finishing our Beta-Testing phase and in the next week, our fully-fledged project and the new website will be up on the web. That said, let’s get to today’s great web-share!…

As we slide into the topic of happiness, we have a few questions for you to ponder – consider them the stretching before a little mental workout:

  • Image: A person behind a sheetSo why does it seem we gravitate towards suffering and disappointment? We focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do. We focus on the shortcomings of others rather than their gifts. We constantly attach our happiness to expecting specific outcomes.
  • Is there a difference between pleasure and happiness that we must understand to be truly happy?
  • Should we proceed in our quest for real happiness by striving for the perfect external life conditions?

A great philosophical leader once said, “If you are going to strive for the external trappings of pleasure – a life in a penthouse apartment for instance – but you are not truly happy within… all you will eventually do is look for a window to jump out.”1  Wise advice. Let’s see if we can bring things around to a place where happiness is something you choose ahead of time, fundamentally, aside from external circumstances…

Image: 'Happiness,' by Matthieu Ricard - click here to order your copy on Amazon.com nowFirst, I am recommending this amazing book, “Happiness,” on the subject of finding true happiness. (You can find it via the link under the image below.) And you may remember that I don’t recommend books to anyone unless they are extraordinary and this one is simply transformational if you need a boost when it comes to this subject.

The book “Happiness” holds a permanent place by my bedside or is within arms reach in my briefcase at all times,.. even in my dental office! I have a lot of books, but this book feels almost like a friend who’s right there when you need to bounce something off a wise, receptive ear. If I’m feeling any kind of inner struggle, or can’t seem to come up with a better questions to solve a problem, I often crack it open randomly and read what my eyes fall upon for answers. Nine times out of ten, I come away smiling and shaking my head at the insight I found there. My copy (shown below) of author Matthieu Ricard’s masterpiece has more underlining and chicken-scratchings than any other book I own.

Image: 'Happiness,' by Matthieu Ricard - click here to order your copy on Amazon.com now
Page after page I have made notes to myself, where I want to revisit key points (which I do several times a week!) I’m always going to recommend that you ask your local book-seller to order this for you (support local!) but if that’s not possible, you can find “Happiness” on Amazon.com HERE.

The beautiful thing about my book recommendation today is that the author, Matthieu Ricard, happens to have a transformational TED Talk that will give you a tiny taste of the concepts in his book. Like all things video versus written,.. the book is far better than the talk because in the book Matthieu has time to take you on many little “thought journeys” that make his points indelible. Keep that in mind if Matthieu’s introduction here leaves you only curious.

Also, FYI: the beginning of the happiness book is a bit slow if you don’t enjoy learning how this extraordinary man became who he is today. The first 20 pages or so are his biography but hang in there. The pearls are scattered throughout and eventually he takes insight to a place where you will have to pause and think a bit on almost every page.

So without further adieu, here’s the Mr. Ricard giving you a small taste of the insights he’s earned through years of mindfulness practice… In a life that ranged from being a biochemist to a monk. Relax with this one folks,.. it takes him about 4 minutes to get rolling,.. be patient with Matthieu,.. and yourself! And you will be rewarded. (And remember this is just the tip of the iceberg that you’ll find in the book.) Enjoy!

Video Source: TED 1

A little too mind-bending for you? I had to watch it several times because my mind kept getting stuck on some of his assertions and then I’d miss huge segments. There’s a lot to ponder there.

Image: Bernie Boston's 1967 photo
Flower Power is a historic photograph taken in 1967 by photographer Bernie Boston.

That’s the way the book is too. I don’t think I’ve ever read more than a few pages at a time because he has a way of laying things down like bread crumbs to insights about our own moments in life.

Have some fun with this, even if you didn’t “get” it the first time through. Then try using some of the insights in your family or work environments.

You may know I’ve managed a team of 15 professionals for twenty years. Oh, how I wish I’d had these insights a decade ago! I’ve seen situations on my own office team where people seem we gravitate towards suffering and disappointment; focusing on what they don’t have in a co-worker, rather than what they do. Why do we focus on the shortcomings of others rather than their gifts? It’s easy to do that with our children and other loved ones too.

I’m going to try to be more mindful of the commentary swirling inside my head today and see how much goodness I’m choosing to miss.

Still curious about happiness? Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find 6 more articles I can recommend. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on staying open, curious and hopeful.

~ Dr. Lynda