Every day we receive encouraging quotes via social media that promote positive thinking, perseverance, and ways to look at life from the bright side. Do you ever wonder where this trend started? Have you ever considered whether it adds any value? Like most trends, it’s an unconscious process that becomes contagious, and more and more people get involved until everyone becomes consciously aware of the trend.
We all read those quotes and uplifting posts and we nod our heads in agreement. If we really feel inspired we Like or even Share the post, but it’s less likely that we will reflect or act on it. If we look at those messages that promote happiness at work, in our life, or with our friends we might regard them as superficial or a trite clichéd. We may even question whether we actually deserve to be happy or even if we really want to be. Does it not feel false to be happy when there is so much misery in the world?
There are many definitions of happiness
Firstly, there are many definitions of happiness. We have first-hand experience of what fleeting happiness is, which I call the small h, which is where happiness is about experiencing loads of positive emotions in order to feel pleasure. The emphasis in on instant gratification.
However, if we define happiness at its second level, we are concerned with growth and change. We develop our skills and strengths for the service of the greater good. I refer to this as the BIG H, as most languages use one word that has different meanings we need to find ways to associate what we mean. So, for us it’s the small h and the BIG H. The BIG H comprises of six factors, which are self-acceptance, positive relationships, autonomy, environment mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth.
As you can see the BIG H refers to a totally different type of life quality. Here we can enjoy the aspects of “being”, “belonging” and “becoming” engaged and involved with our life.
The second reason we are uncomfortable with being happy is that it feels unnatural to continuously experience positive emotions. Yes, emotions are a core cornerstone of happiness (small or BIG H), however emotions are part of every human being’s existence. Sure we can suppress our emotions or even be emotionally illiterate, but that is learnt behaviour. Emotions are the fuel that enable us to experience life by attaching meaning to events, situations and people. Emotions are what make us function and if well-managed, we can thrive.
Emotions have three essential roles:
Act as messengers
Our emotions communicate what we like, want, need, and value. They give us an indication as to whether a situation is good or bad, and if we are moving closer or further away from our goals. Positive emotions let us know if we are on track and feel secure. Negative emotions communicate the opposite. Also, we receive an incredible amount of information on a daily basis, which is too great for us to process or hold in our conscious awareness. We must rely on our emotions to analyse and filter the information into what is necessary for us.
Act as motivators
Emotions provide us with the energy to think, act and behave, and get us moving. Both positive and negative emotions serve us well, and we need to learn to listen, hear and accept them. Positive emotions broaden our thinking, and open up our awareness so that we can see opportunities. Negative emotions protect us from threats, and make us alert, observant, and vigilant.
Act as facilitators
Emotions are resource enablers. They allow us to use our social, physical, and psychological resources to achieve our goals. This means that we use our connections and physical bodies to do, and our minds to think.
Now, that you understand happiness and one of its core cornerstones, you may think about happiness differently. The BIG H is not fluffy or fuzzy at all. Happiness is a conscious choice! You deserve to be happy.
If you want to develop and grow your BIG H, check out our Online Program “Craft You Happiness” on www.4seeds.co.za.