Keys to Happiness

"Happiness is the whole aim and end of human existence" - Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" - Mahatma Gandhi

Underlying the reasons why clients have come to me over the years is the desire for happiness. What is happiness? Conventional wisdom often defines happiness as status, financial security, worldly goods, possessions, lifestyle, accomplishments etc. I have met many very successful people, who seemed to have it all; who have come to me saying they felt something was missing from their life - they weren't happy! They say, "I want to be happy. What do I do?" What I have come to know is that things and people do not create happiness. Feeling happy as a response to an external experience adds to our own happiness, but is not the true source of happiness. Why? Happiness is a state of being, independent of external influences and situations.

In a gem of a book called, What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, Ph.D, he defines happiness as " A way of life - an overriding outlook composed of qualities such as optimism, courage, love, and fulfillment. " He says, "We all have a neurological fear system embedded within our brains that once helped us survive, but now limits our lives. This biological circuitry of fear is the greatest enemy of happiness!"

According to Baker, "Happiness is a by-product for the condition (state of being, outlook on life) that comes from several indispensable qualities. The sum of the following qualities is happiness."

The Twelve Qualities of Happiness

1. Love - the antidote to fear and an essential quality of happiness. Love renews and energizes the human Spirit.

2. Optimism - provides power over painful events to be able to see the profound value of the experience.

3. Courage -the strongest weapon for overcoming the lightening fast power of the fear system.

4. A sense of freedom -freedom is choice. Using courage to exercise choice is true freedom.

5. Proactivity - actively participating in creating your destiny and forging your own happiness.

6. Security - liking who you are on the inside and developing a strong inner foundation that will last a lifetime.

7. Health - health and happiness are interdependent. It's hard to feel happy if you don't feel healthy and vice versa.

8. Spirituality - having the connection to a Higher Power, Spirit, God, or Religion extends the boundaries of our own lives for extraordinary experiences.

9. Altruism - helping other people and contributing to the quality of their life fulfills a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction.

10. Perspective - - being able to see shades of gray and knowing how to prioritize problems (challenges?) into possibilities and opportunities. Seeing the big picture!

11. Humor - Humor is the shift of perception that gives you the courage to take action. By lifting the suffering off the heart, humor empowers the Spirit to heal it.

12. Purpose - understanding why you are here on this earth and doing the things you were meant to do.

* You can find this list on page 19

Baker states, "other qualities such as confidence, self-esteem, fulfillment, and peace of mind are important" without the list being long. "Not all of these qualities must be present or in equal amounts to be happy. Most of them must be abundant for someone to experience the kind of lasting rock-solid happiness that endures even when life gets tough. "

What's your definition of happiness?


Over the next month, review the list of qualities for happiness. Select one or more qualities to focus your attention. For example: Taking action on things you have been procrastinating (proactive), extending yourself to help someone else for the joy of it (altruism), or taking better care of your body (health). At the end of 30 days, celebrate taking another step to increase your happiness level!

Copyright 2004, Lorraine Cohen

Lorraine Cohen of"> is a Business Coach and Life Strategist and Team Member of"target=_blank> Lorraine Cohen is a Business Coach & Life Strategist who brings more than 25 years of experience in life coaching, counseling, and sales. She helps people through career change, life transitions, and the process of breaking through FEAR and removing barriers to success.


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