The danger in focusing on unhappiness is that we begin to believe that happiness is an external treasure that we can discover in another person or in circumstances or in some form of success. May I share with you the secret to happiness? I have discovered it regularly through the more than 50 years in the counseling office.
Happy people give others the gifts of happiness. What are they? Attention, appreciation and affection. Adages may catch some part of the truth. One says happy people are those who figure out what they enjoy doing and find a way to make a living doing it. That’s good if somewhat incomplete.
Another adage says happy people are those who have something to do and someone to share it. It also contains truth.
This is not an adage but a formula for being happy. All of us need three things to feel fulfilled in life: attention, appreciation, and affection.
The first is attention: we want someone to listen to us, to focus on who we are and what we need. The leadership guru, John Maxwell, opines, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” If you have someone in your life who listens to you with focus, you are likely to be a happy person.
The second key word is appreciation. Do you have someone in your life who values you? Happy people feel appreciated by others. They feel that someone is grateful that they are alive and a part of their world.
The third need is affection. From the earliest moments of our lives we crave warm touches. Mothers very early convey security by affectionate cradling of their infant to their breast. We never lose the joy of an intimate embrace no matter how much we age.
But this thought would be incomplete if I did not emphasize the deeper foundation of happiness; it’s discovered through giving away what you need. Happy people are those who find ways to share attention, express appreciation, and give affection to those in their lives. When I give what I need I receive as I give.
Two wise words catch this meaning: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The wisest of all teachers said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Are you looking for happiness? Follow this formula and you’ll discover it.