Just what is the definition of happiness? This becomes a very
important question, and extremely relevant to whether or not we have the
right map. These pages will explore our individual happiness and how we
can make better choices to bring us closer to it.
The best definition of happiness includes two things:
• Our ability to experience joy and pleasure in the form of peak experiences, which will fade.
• A general overall feeling of satisfaction and well being that is not intense or spiked in anyway.
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In these pages we will look at the wrong turns we make that lead us further away from happiness.
Definition of Happiness: Mistake # 1 Avoiding Pain and Discomfort
In order to get happiness, we have to feel some unhappiness. We
don’t understand this, and so we often make a wrong choice.
Procrastination is a good example. In our attempts to avoid unpleasant
tasks, we create a greater sense of unhappiness. We think the definition
of happiness is “feeling good always and feeling good right now.” It
isn’t. Sadness, anger, discomfort, anxiety, all these things ,must be
experienced in order to have happiness. No one is happy all the time.
Many of the choices, and wrong turns we make on our path to happiness
have to do with this mistake.
It really isn’t our fault . We are wired to seek pleasure and
avoid pain. We have tricked ourselves into thinking avoiding discomfort
will bring us happiness, because in the instant it will. If we choose
not to do something that is stressful or difficult what happens? Well
in the moment, it feels good! We feel a sense of relief.
Our mind doesn’t always work the way it should to bring us happiness! We need to train it.
Yet, what happens when we procrastinate, avoid, distract or
ignore doing unpleasant things? We don’t feel very happy about yourself
because we aren’t accomplishing what we need to get done. In the future
we will pay the price for this on many different levels. We will feel
badly about ourselves and we won’t accomplish what we need to
Good habits and choices really do have something to do with
happiness. When we are unhappy, we are making what we think are the
right choices that will to bring us closer to happiness, when in fact
they are the wrong choices.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 2: Trading the future for the present by seeking pleasure
Another mistake we make is the seeking of pleasure in the moment
at the sacrifice of our long term happiness. For example, eating
drinking, and spending too much to try to feel better right now, will
often lead to situations which over the long haul, produce unhappiness.
We think the definition of happiness is “If I only I could have that, or
do this, everything would be better. “ So we buy things we can’t
afford, and we eat things we shouldn’t eat. Then we get poor and fat!
That doesn’t lead to happiness.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 3: Trading the Present for the Future
Trading the present for the future is also a very common theme
which produces unhappiness. One part of the definition of happiness is
being able to have peak experiences and experience joy and pleasure in
the moment. However, this does not mean false or artificially induced
joy. Food, drugs and other addictions may provide a false sense of
happiness and joy. One of the biggest mistakes we make in our search
for happiness is to chase the peak experiences, hang on to the peak
experiences (which always fade), or choose the peak experiences at the
expense of our overall happiness.
But real” in the moment” happiness comes from being present.
That means paying attention to your friends and family and what they are
saying so you can experience true intimacy and emotional connection.
It means being able to walk outside and experience the feeling of the
sun on your skin, or see and smell the beauty of the flowers. It means
being present with your mind and body so you can experience life as it
is. It means not being preoccupied with the future and past in a way
that prevents you from being here now.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 4: Trading the Past for the Present, Trading the Past for the Future
Another thing that we will frequently do is punish ourselves for
things that happened in the past. We will make bad choices that deprive
us of happiness because we are trying to undo or change the past. When
we let the past define who we are now, or limit us and what we can do in
the future, we are setting ourselves up for unhappiness. Our past does
not limit your future in many of the ways you think it does. It is
mistake to believe that’s the case. We all deserve happiness and we are
all responsible for cultivating it. Our minds trick us into thinking we
are doing something helpful for ourselves when we aren’t.
Definition of Happiness mistake # 5: Refusing to Accept Things as They are
This is a big one! Hour after hour in my therapy office we
explore this. So many hours we waste working on acceptance so that we
can’t really move forward and impact what we have control over. If we
have been hurt, or wronged, or made bad mistakes we need to accept it.
Wanting it to be different, wishing it to be different it won’t make it
so. Once we accept that something is, we can work on it. Think about
You go to the mechanic because your car isn’t working right and he tells
you the engine is broken. You argue with him about how it isn’t fair.
You tell him you don’t believe him. You leave and continue to drive the
car. What will happen? Will the engine get fixed? No, it will probably
In the pages linked here we will learn more about each of these issues.
Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have
or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.