happ(i)ness for everyone

everyone wants to find happiness - in fact, every decision that we make is made to make us happy or bring us happiness.  in 2016 we talked with over 3,000 young adults about happiness and we confirmed that happy with a "y" is pretty different than happiness (happy with an "i").  there are some very interesting paradoxes surrounding happiness:

  • happy is not the same thing as happiness (although people use the two words interchangeably) 
  • everyone says that they want to be happy (but very few people have an intentional plan for doing this)
  • the sources of our happiness are very obvious (but a lot of the literature surrounding happiness makes finding it difficult, complex and complicated)
    • healthy people find more happiness than people who are unhealthy
    • people who are learning, creating, growing find more happiness than people who are bored
    • people who have close connections with others find more happiness than lonely people
    • people who have a relationship with a higher power (who are good) find more happiness than people who are bad
  • kids of all ages already know the list of things that they are likely to regret when they are 50 years old (but almost none of them have a plan to avoid this regret)
  • happiness is a journey, but most people treat it like it is a destination (missing the beauty of the journey along the way)
  • little accomplishments are not exciting enough for people to focus on (even though every big accomplishment is a series of very little things that were accomplished)

these are some of the ideas that the gunnar project wants to explore.  each of us needs to intentionally pursue happiness everyday.  we know in our hearts that we want to do it, the "noise" in the world has made it somewhat difficult to know exactly what to do.  enjoy the moment - enjoy the journey to a life that is fulfilled and worthwhile.

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is happy the right target?

we all want to be happy - right?  it is not as obvious as you think.  when people list the things that make them happy - they list things like:  a good cup of coffee, hanging out with friends, playing FIFA ...  when the same people are asked to define "true happiness" they come up with things like:  serve others, having a relationship with God, finding love in the absence of fear ...

focusing on happiness makes a life worthwhile and fulfilling.  happy things are important and are fun, but maybe not the focus of our lives

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the war on our happiness

we all have a little "voice" inside of us.  some call the voice our conscience or our spirit, but i think that everyone admits to having the voice.  most people also admit to being too busy or stressed or hurried to listen to the voice.

unfortunately, millions and millions of dollars are spent every day to drown out the voice.  we are told that we are too fat, that we need bigger cars and homes, that we need make-up and perfume and more and more and more.  we call this incredibly loud noise "the matrix" and the goal of the matrix is to convince us that we need more.  the purpose of the matrix is profit.

life is hard

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and life is like a leaky bucket

let's face it ... life is hard.  throughout the day we face a lot of challenges.  we have to go to work or go to school and we have bosses, teachers, friends, parents who hold us accountable for doing things that we don't always want to do.  we put things in our bodies that are not always the most healthy.  we face bad drivers on the roads and crabby people in other places.

all of these things take energy out of us and chip away at making us "crabby".  we need to intentionally seek out happiness to replace these negatives that we face everyday.  these sources of happiness are around us in each moment of every day, but as we have grown to be adults, we have forgotten to find them ... we have lost our ability to see them.


death and the samurai

each day most of us leave things undone because we don't think that we will die today.  we don't call our moms and dads to tell them we love them.  we don't hug our families or friends, we don't mend fences with others who we have disagreed with ... all because we think there will be tomorrow.

in ancient times (and for some soldiers, policemen, firemen today) the samurai knew that their job was to give their life for their leader.  because of this they made sure that they tied up all loose ends before they left their home for their "job".  they knew that they might not come home that night so they wrapped up all of their loose ends.


happiness is a journey not a place

when people think of happy, they generally think of time and place - meeting with friends, having a good cup of coffee or a good meal, reading a book ...  

happiness is not a time and place but rather a journey.  in order to fully engage with happiness on a daily or moment-by-moment basis we need to see happiness as a journey.  we need to fully engage with this journey and fully absorb the moments along the way.


happiness is all around us ... do you see it?

kids see and say the darnedest things ... and as we move into adulthood we lose these incredible abilities.  we lose the ability to see and be part of all of the wonderful things around us in each moment of every day.  

we need to relearn the skill of "seeing".  we need to get back in the habit of looking up at the sky in amazement of the beauty, size and scope.  we need to get back in the habit of smelling the fresh air.  we need to take off our blinders and see everything that life has to offer.