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The Definition of Happiness

Added on June 22, 2011

Many of you may think that “Happiness” is an overused, meaningless word; and I would probably agree that the word is frequently misused.

Perhaps for some, happiness means a transient state of pleasure, such as “shopping makes me happy” or “a massage makes me happy”, or “watching the tennis makes me happy”. Certainly the chemicals in the brain that register pleasure increase during such activities, but this joy is short-lived.

For others, “happiness” may mean having days filled with activity – working or studying, having a good social life, spending time on a hobby or favourite pass-time. Such a life is a busy life, and certainly may be satisfying but can also lead to stress, and from there to negative emotions.

So how can we define true “happiness”?

Positive Psychologists describe genuine happiness coming from a sense of purpose in your life, a sense that there is meaning to what you do. This feeling may come from connection with family or community; it may come from the particular work you do (paid or unpaid). Or your sense of purpose may come from your spiritual beliefs.

The Dalai Lama describes happiness as coming from genuine and sincere altruism, ie love of your fellow human being. He describes the connection that all human beings have and says that happiness will result from compassion for others and from simple acts of loving kindness, even if that is just smiling at strangers on the street.

I wonder what the world would be like if even 10% of us held that simple philosophy, that in order to find true happiness, we must first give it away to others…

About Judith Lissing

Judith Lissing is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Wellness Coach, with 15 years experience in teaching stress management and meditation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Immunology and a Masters degree in Public Health, both from the University of NSW. She is also an Associate Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW since 1999. Judith is trained in Wellness Coaching with Wellcoaches U.S. and holds a Diploma in Hypnotherapy. Prior to coaching professionally, Judith held a statewide management role with NSW Health working with all levels of staff across the health sector.

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