Ahhh...wouldn't it be great if the answer to that were revealed once and for all by divulging the secret to happiness within this paragraph?
If I had it - I'd eat it, I'd drink it, I'd share it, or I may even sell it!
We are endlessly bombarded with 'shiny new things' to increase our happiness as we walk through the mall, open our browsers, read magazines, and watch various commercials on television. If you get sucked in, which most of us do, you are likely to get stuck on the hedonic treadmill and you may always be chasing happiness. I remember when I was about 19 years old, my managerial accounting professor had a little sticker on his glass door that said, "He who dies with the most toys, wins". I guess we'll find out, but I think that is unlikely.
There has been a lot of research on happiness within the last two decades, but of course, no absolutes. We know staying socially connected, having great self-care, making enough money to support ourselves, having a reasonable amount of autonomy, and perceiving that you make a difference, just to name a few, are all related to an increase in the likelihood to being happy. Some of us are wired to be more happy, some of us have to work harder at it, but we all have the capacity to create our own happiness. Keep in mind that:
Happiness is your own perception.
Happiness is a feeling.
Happiness is personal, and cannot be prescribed by others.
Happiness is usually something simple.
Happiness is fleeting and temporary, and can usually be defined in a moment.
Perhaps you can be lucky enough to string enough moments together to be there with consistency.
We need to slow down just enough to figure out what truly brings us joy and happiness, and whether we are filling ourselves up with it with some regularity (from the inside, not from just the 'shiny' things). Sure, there are countless times we have to do things that don't bring us immediate joy - like studying hard for a test, scrubbing a toilet, pushing through the last set at training when everything hurts - all in hope for future happiness and joy.
I was asked by my very insightful 17 year old son yesterday,
"Mom, what brings you joy?"
How would you answer that?
Consider that what used to give you joy may have changed. You may have different interests, you may be in a different life stage, or there may be some other circumstance that has influenced you to have simply changed.
Maybe you have been on survival mode for so long you haven't even allowed yourself to ask the question.