How do you define happy?

Merriam-Webster provides a simple definition of happy as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.” I think it’s safe to say that most of us use the term in this way. It’s feeling good because things are good. That’s what we want, right? For ourselves and for our children. Yet studies show that rates of depression and anxiety have been growing for decades.

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to search externally for happiness – our job, the ideal spouse, income, owning more stuff, appearance, and on and on. We are always waiting for the next thing that will satisfy us. But guess what the problem is with these external things? That’s right, they’re external. That makes them fragile, fleeting and ultimately out of our control. People will disappoint us, the economy will fluctuate, and we can’t look like we’re 25 forever! Life ebbs and flows, ranging from debilitating loss to intense joy and everything in between. It’s beautiful and it’s messy and, yes, it’s the messy that will make or break us.

Various studies have helped us to understand what exactly happiness is, how it’s influenced and how it can be enhanced. What “Positive Psychology” and the “Science of Happiness” have found is that what contributes to our overall happiness are the internal factors that get us through the messy – resiliency, outlook, self-awareness, humor, connection, to name some.

At Pavilion Psychological Services, our clinicians are available to help you manage the messy – change, loss, stress, low self-esteem, health conditions, lifestyle change, addiction, interpersonal struggles, etc.

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet.” -James Oppenheim