Happiness is something that most of us strive for, and in fact, feel that we deserve to have. After all, our Declaration of Independence references “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
So what does it mean to pursue happiness? When we think of pursuing something, we usually mean that we’re going after something we don’t already have. In Marci Shimoff’s book, Happy for No Reason, she points out that in Jefferson’s time, “to pursue something meant to practice that activity, to do it regularly, to make a habit of it.” There’s a huge difference between chasing after happiness and practicing happiness. When we chase after happiness, we’re coming from a perspective of lack – we don’t have the thing that we want. But when we practice happiness, we’re active participants in making ourselves even happier.
So how can we practice happiness at work and at home? The first key is to know that you can weather your moods. Like the weather, your moods are always changing. Recognizing and accepting your moods and knowing that they will change is important to “being happiness.”
If you realize this, when you are up, you can fully appreciate the moments of pure pleasure. Instead of being disappointed when your great mood doesn’t last, you know that not only won’t it last, but it is not supposed to, and so, you can appreciate it while it does.
When you are down, you also know that it won’t last, and because of that, you can weather the low. If you are really down, know that your natural balance will soon bring you up. From a very high level perspective, you can now appreciate the downs, for you’ll know that each of life’s experiences are opportunities to appreciate the gifts that life brings us.
So next time you have a great day – or a “bad” one – appreciate it for what it is, know that it won’t last, and know that that perspective will put you well on your way to pursuing happiness.