What does happiness mean to you?

Posted by Karen in Benefits of Life Coaching

International Day of Happiness

There are some wonderful events taking place on 20 March to celebrate International Day of Happiness, established by the United Nations to raise awareness of just how fundamental being happy and healthy is for our mental and physical wellbeing, individually and as societies.

London’s First Happy Café, The Canvas Café….c. Canvas Cafe London's first Happy Cafe

The Canvas Café will be hosting a series of events from dawn to dusk to celebrate International Day of Happiness including a panel discussion, hosted by owner Ruth Rogers on the topic of “What does Happiness mean to you?”. I’m delighted to have been invited onto a fabulous panel made up of Shamash Alidina and Victoria Johnson from the Museum of Happiness, Alex Nunn from Action for Happiness and Felipe Viveros from the Bhutan Gross National Happiness Movement.

I’ll be reporting back on the main discussion points of the debate on Facebook.

But in the meantime… what is happiness?

Happy is a much used word. ‘I’m happy about this, I’m not happy about that’….

But what does being happy really mean? How do we know we are happy? What does it feel like?

Research has shown that long-term happiness, feeling contented with life, stems from feeling and being in control of as much of our life as possible. It’s not about smiling all the time nor does it stem from money or health, but a self-belief you are on the road you want to be on.

Happiness is therefore a state of being that arises from within us when we live in line with what matters to us, i.e. when we choose to spend time on the things that are most important to us.

The problem many of us face however is that we live out of sync with what matters most to us and we find ourselves doing a lot more things we don’t like than we do. The things that contribute most to our happiness and that we feel most passionate about, and enjoy doing slip-off our agenda.

And what does being happy mean to you?

To find out what being happy means to you, ask yourself what’s important to you in your life.

What is meaningful to you? What are some things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction and as a result, bring you happiness?

It doesn’t have to be big things, it can be small things such as taking up painting again, or playing an instrument, or writing, or joining one of your local community projects, going on a walk in nature, spending time with your children and close friends.

Here’s a few examples of how clients have reconnected with what makes them happy:

– leaving a job, completing a French class at the Sorbonne in Paris and getting a dog
– re-defining work hours – taking regular lunch breaks for the first time in years and leaving work earlier to reclaim the evenings.
– walking to work rather than taking public transport – as a way to combine fitness with getting regular fresh air and switch off time.
– running without music to hear the birds and life around, creating some space in the day to be with oneself
– picking up photography again – which the client has now turned into business
– playing the trumpet again after 30 years

Indeed, one of the most common reasons people seek life coaching is because they have an overall sense of unhappiness and lack of fulfilment. They talk about wanting to feel happy, but they don’t know what being happy really means and feels like. Coaching helps increase self-awareness. An understanding of where you are in your life and how you get to where you want to be. Try this self-observation exercise to become more in-tune with your own happiness.

Making an effort every day to explore what’s possible is the very thing that renders our life meaningful and happy. And when we know why we are making an effort, the effort becomes effortless and happiness arises.

If you’d like to chat more, do contact me. I offer a free 30-minute coaching taster session in Victoria Park, East London, or via phone or Skype.

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