Throughout the ages, philosophers have sought the key to happiness. It has been endlessly discussed, argued about, and dissected. In more recent times, popular culture and social media are likewise fixated on how to live a better and happy life. Is the key to happiness seeking pleasure? Is it money? Could it instead be focusing on self-fulfillment or self-actualization? What about acts of charity and service? How about just simply adopting a positive attitude?
We all continually strive to be happy. I wouldn’t be surprised if happiness were the single most frequently searched term on the internet—well, maybe after “sex!”
I have found that there is one critical attitude that is absolutely essential to happiness, and I want to share it with you.
Before I reveal my key to happiness, I will list some attitudes that would prevent you from ever obtaining any measure of happiness, with examples of each.
Living in the Future
- “I can’t wait until I finally get out of school and start working.”
- “I wish I would be promoted to manager and get that big raise.”
- “It will be great when the kids are finally grown and out of the house.”
- “I won’t be truly happy until I am retired from work and able to do what I want.”
Being Dissatisfied With Yourself
- “I wish I were taller and prettier.”
- “I wish I had some great talent, like being a singer or dancer.”
- “I’d really like to be more confident, and less quiet and shy.”
- “I hate always having to worry about money. I want to be rich.”
Being Dissatisfied With Others
- “My spouse really needs to lose a few pounds.”
- “I wish my son was less hyperactive and disruptive at school.”
- “Why does my boss have to micromanage everything I do?”
- “My dad is becoming senile. I wish he was his old self.”
So what do all of these attitudes have in common, and what is the antidote that is essential to happiness? All of the above are things you will likely never be able to change, and therefore dwelling on them and holding your happiness hostage to them will only cause you to forever be miserable.
You will certainly never be able to live in the future—we all must live in the present, by definition. The future is forever beyond our grasp, and attempting to live in it is folly. Also, there are things about ourselves and others that we will never likely change. Will you ever become taller? Can you fundamentally change your personality type? Even more unlikely, will you ever change your spouse, kids, or boss in any meaningful way? I seriously doubt it.
So my absolutely essential key to being happy is: contentment.
Contentment is adopting an attitude of being accepting, satisfied, fulfilled, and grateful for whom and what you are and your present circumstances.
If you are not at least somewhat content, but rather are continually dissatisfied with yourself, others, and your life, you will be endlessly frustrated and unhappy.
As a wonderful side benefit, contentment also brings with it an ability to be at ease and relax. This is a wonderful and rare condition in these hectic times in which we live.
So, seek reasons to be content. Once you achieve some measure of it, you will finally begin to open the gates to your personal happiness!