The Science of Happiness
When is the last time you thought “I’ll be happier once I find the right job (or get the raise, find the partner, lose the pounds, launch the business, or finally go on vacation!)?
Research postulates that you would soon grow bored of indulging in the easy life. And big pinnacle moments don’t change your overall life outlook and experience of happiness. So what does help you be happier? According to researcher Tal Ben-Shahar, “Happiness is the experience of climbing towards the peak.” Scientists are finding that happiness doesn’t live in the attainment of sought-after goals nor the vacation break from it all.
Happiness lives in the process of challenging yourself to engage in activities that stretch your capabilities in service of something you say is important.
In my opinion, this illuminates why parenting, despite being one of the most important jobs in the world, can feel less than fulfilling at times. Parenting rarely requires you to stretch your capabilities (aside from patience!): It keeps you constantly busy but without the time or focus to raise your personal bar of excellence.
Whether your current challenge is in parenting, a relationship or your work, if you are not growing in ways you enjoy, then your happiness is decreasing. Your experience of life becomes more one dimensional, more flattened, and this decreased experience of happiness has very real consequences on your health, relationships, and ability to enjoy this one glorious life that is yours.
If you are a person who is experiencing life as lacking vibrant dimensions but believe you are too busy to add anything else into the mix, pause, lean in, and listen more closely to that part of you.
In what ways are you learning, growing, and challenging yourself? And in service of what? What goal is meaningful enough for you to plumb the depths of your potential? You have important gifts to give in this world, and the really cool thing is that your efforts to give them more fully will leave you happier too!
It’s important for you to know what YOUR gifts are and what YOU say is an important way to bring them into the world. There are lots of messages that try to tell us who we “should” be and what important work looks like. Similarly, it’s really helpful to notice and celebrate the process, as the process is where increased happiness lives, not the destination.
Maybe you find yourself constantly challenged and working hard on many fronts, but without a compelling and unified sense of why you are doing all. Or maybe you have a sense of what you want to learn and contribute but have no idea where to get started or how anything else could fit in your already busy life.
If this describes you, consider contacting me for a free exploration coaching conversation to explore what your desired experience of happiness includes and what would help you shift the scales in that direction. There is no obligation and I know you will leave the call with new insights and ideas that will support you in the never-ending journey for increased happiness.