How to find happiness

Recently, I’ve been thinking about happiness–the concept of happiness, what it means to be happy, and my own personal happiness.
What does it take for me to be happy? Is happiness a choice or an accident of genes; or is it a mixture of both?
What times in my life have I felt the greatest happiness? And, most important, what is happiness and how do I find it?
I answered the easiest questions first. As for the gene question: if there is a “happiness gene,” I was born with it.
My natural bent is towards looking on the bright side–in dark times the sun is just behind a cloud.
But even with my natural happiness gene, it takes a conscious choice to not give in when the clouds get dense and life is hard.
Paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If,” “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same,” then you will find happiness.
Yes, that’s it. Life is never easy, but that doesn’t mean we have to be unhappy. We can deal with things.
Many authors have dealt with the topic of happiness.
In his book “Happiness for Dummies,” W. Doyle Gentry says that it isn’t important to know what happiness is. Furthermore, he writes, “Many people spend most of their lives searching for happiness in all the wrong places.”
In “Happy for No Reason,” Marci Shimoff and Carol Kline say it this way: “We’ve been conditioned to believe that happiness is something for us to pursue. So, like a dog going after a stick, we chase after happiness.”
Happiness should not be sought. Happiness is a byproduct of a good life. But there are some things you can do to ensure you have a satisfying and happy life.
In his book “The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People,” David Niven tells us what some of those things are.
Here is a sample of Niven’s 100 “secrets”:
•Enjoy! Enjoy what you have. Enjoy the ordinary. Enjoy what you do every day.
•Cultivate lots of friends and value your family. According to research, personal relationships explain 70 percent of personal happiness.
•Exercise. You will feel healthier and happier if you exercise. And always remember, exercising with friends is a plus!
•Laugh any time you can. Laugh loudly and long. Laugh with other people and laugh by yourself.
•Cherish animals. The closer you are to animals, the more you will enjoy them. People who have a pet are 22 percent more likely to be satisfied and happy than those without a pet.
And Niven’s 98th secret is a very important one if you are “this side of 60.”
•You have not finished the best part of your life.
In this chapter, Niven references a northern California study that covered three decades. The researchers asked older people which part of their life was the happiest and eight out of 10 answered “right now.”
So where do you find happiness? By living every day–throwing yourself into each experience. And choosing to fully enjoy life as you age.

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