Happiness is the meaning of life, it’s often said. But if being happy is our birthright, then why are so many of us miserable? Is there some sort of secret happiness formula?
Yes and no really. Yes, there’s a formula but it’s no big secret. In this short series I’ll show you the main ingredients you need to make your life truly happy. Spoiler alert: money isn’t one of them, but we’ll come back to that fascinating topic another time.
Ingredient no. 1: Purpose
Living with a clear sense of purpose will contribute greatly to your happiness. If you don’t know what you want in life, how could you possibly become happy? Purpose is the perfect antidote to wandering through life aimlessly.
Once you’ve figured out your purpose in life, you’ll start working towards it, consciously and unconsciously. And that in itself will already make you a happier person. Because, as the saying goes: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
Get your purpose right
In order for your journey to be a happy and joyful one, your purpose will have to be three things: meaningful, actionable and measurable.
First of all, your purpose needs to be meaningful… to you! It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world thinks your purpose is silly, weird or outright crazy. The only thing that matters is that it’s meaningful and valuable to you.
Your purpose also has to be actionable. In other words, you have to be able to personally do something about it. World peace is a noble cause, but it’s not something you want to set as your purpose in life because there’s not much you can do.
You could however decide to be kind and helpful to the people around you. Or even to offer a heartfelt smile to every stranger whose eyes you meet. As that attitude catches on and spreads, you’ll have done your bit for world peace.
Make your treasure map
For your purpose to be measurable, it has to be precise and concrete. A vague purpose is better than no purpose at all of course, but it pays to think it through. Put it into words clearly. Write it down. That will help to get those two previous requirements right as well.
Your purpose has to be measurable so you can keep track of your progress. It’s like making your own treasure map. Your purpose is the treasure, and along the way are all these landmarks and beacons that enable you to stay on course, to measure your success.
With every little victory your happiness will increase. The trick here is to make those steps small. Very small. It makes the little victories towards your purpose achievable and less intimidating. The smaller your steps, the more confident you’ll be that you can succeed in taking them, and as a consequence, the better your chances of succeeding.
So go ahead and make your very own treasure map. Be bold, be silly and actually draw a map. Your purpose in life is the treasure. Make sure you add lots of landmarks to your map, big and small – plenty of small ones though. Celebrate your victories and remember to have fun on this wonderful adventure that we call Life!
Image credits: (1) Sanja Gjenero & (2) Phil Edon, rgbstock