Elements Of Happiness
Elements Of Happiness
Lynn Ianni (Psychotherapist) gives expert video advice on: What part does money play in happiness?; What part does family play in happiness?; What part does spirituality or religion play in happiness? and more...
What part does money play in happiness?
It's great to have what you need in terms of enough possessions to help you feel like you are safe and secure in the world, that you have enough to eat, enough comforts around you so that you feel like you are safe. Those are huge pieces in terms of that hierarchy of needs that we talked about before. Beyond that, it has more to do with how you experience those things and how much attachment you have towards them. That determines whether or not you are happy more than having them in and of themselves because there's another saying about, "Never cry over anything that can't cry over you." If you attach to something inanimate and you lose it, you have the potential to feel badly. If you don't attach to it and you recognize it's just a thing, other things can come. It's not relevant to who you are and how you are and again those things that are warm and things you can put your arms around that love you back. So instead of attaching to something that will never provide that level of comfort, you have the opportunity always to attach to something that will.
What part does family play in happiness?
I think that having harmonious relationships with people really play a strong role in happiness. So those people include family members, relationships with friends, intimate relationships, even relationships with acquaintances, because we are social animals and all the ways that we can allow ourselves to interact pleasurably and in a sense it helps us feel connected to others really increases our sense of purpose and place on the planet. So the more we feel love for our family members, the more we feel loved by them, the better we feel we can be full enough to then be generous of spirit to help other people and then helping other people altruistically helps us feel happy. So it's a very kind of circular process that winds up generating goodwill.
What part does spirituality or religion play in happiness?
I think people that allow their spirituality to create a sense of gratitude and a sense of connection with a world that's beyond this one have the potential to be very happy with that. If their perception of spirituality is a more punitive one, it seems to be a tougher road. So if someone has the belief that we are here for a purpose and they believe that they can achieve that purpose because they allow it to be something that they can actually do and they feel that their work is enough not some finish line that's outside of their control or something they can't attain, it allows their expectations to be reasonable. It allows them to have yet another relationship with God or the universe or whatever they believe, again, that feeds them in a way that helps them feel connected and whole and loved and loving. There it is.
What part does ambition play in happiness?
If ambition is because a person wants to create a 'gift' within their work, that they can give to the world, that your work, hopefully will be what you feel passionate about, what you're good at, and what you can do, as a gift to the world. Then the world rewards you with financial consideration, or with a sense of well-being, or somehow that sense of purpose makes you feel fulfilled. Again, that's another element which can help you feel happy. So, if ambition however, is used as a way to acquire something, and if it's about comparing yourself to others, or stepping on somebody to get ahead, wherever that is, it doesn't actually wind up getting you to a place where you feel like you're ahead of anything, because there's always somebody better at something, and so there is no finish line, and no satisfaction correspondingly.
What part does choice play in happiness?
One of the things that happens when you have to many choices is that it's an invitation to be a bit perfectionistic because it's a sense of entitlement and a sense that we should be able to do everything. So, again your expectations are way to high and especially if you have perfectionism in that equation. It often sets up what they call the three p's, perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads to paralysis. So you can't do it all perfectly, you don't want to take the risk to start it because you're not going to be able to it well enough and you just sit stuck and still and you don't do anything which makes you feel awful and that makes it even more difficult to take a little step, feel a sense of accomplishment there and then use that to take another step. So instead of being inertia of motion which helps you keep moving and flowing toward wherever you want to go it feels like your inertia of rest takes over and you're paralyzed and that feels awful.
What part does gratitude play in happiness?
It's very easy to get attached to things that truly don't create happiness, but which we believe we need in order to have happiness, and one of the ways to avoid that pitfall is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. So if you recognize that the only things you really need are things no one can ever take away from you and that you can never lose, you have a way to have a baseline that doesn't get touched no matter what situations happen, no matter what obstacles are in your path, no matter what unfortunate losses you may experience. You still feel like: I am enough, it is enough, and it is ok.
What part does sex or love play in happiness?
Well, in the beginning of a romantic relationship, when you're in that infatuation stage, you feel very happy. We've all felt that. Everybody writes songs about it and movies about it and that "in love" feeling is one of the ways that we know to define happiness. It's interesting, if you allow then the relationship to actually begin, which it doesn't really do until after you fall "out of love" with the person you fell in love with, and you go through a secondary stage. We call the first stage "forming" and the secondary stage "storming", then "norming", and the "performing". So "forming" is the "in love' infatuation stage. When you get to "storming" you're looking across at that person and you're saying "Oh, my Gosh, what was I thinking. They're not perfect, now I'm not perfect, it's not perfect, maybe this was a bad idea." But when you get through that and you allow yourself to choose to love the person anyway in the "norming" stage and you work out the differences which of course there will be and you identify how you can work together as a partnership, which then gets you to 'performing", you can generate happiness within that relationship, which again, will last for a lifetime instead of just during the romantic phase, and then once that element's over then the relationship is done. Which unfortunately is where most movies stop too, so I don't know that we have great role models about how to that, unfortunately.
What part does work play in happiness?
One theory about generic happiness and that sense of well-being is that it requires a balance of work and love and play. And I believe that. I think that's an accurate way to look at what elements in your life need to be in balance in order for you to feel a sense of joy. Work has to be something that's purposeful, and you have to have some level of challenge and passion. You have to also then have a balance of play, because if you work too much, or if you play too much, and it starts to get lopsided, it will actually start to create a sense of dissatisfaction. When you add the element of love to it, which includes self and others, you really have the entire enchilada. That's it. So, if we all wanted to look at that as probably a way to achieve and maintain happiness, that would probably be the specific elements that need to be in place in order for that to happen.
What part does altruism play in happiness?
I think that altruism is a very essential only to happiness because it almost works in life stages. The first stage is about learning to love your self. The second stage is learning to love another and the third stage is learning to love the world. So if you look at it developmentally and you recognized that altruism means that you're at a place where you can give back, you must have something within you in order to do that. So giving oneself up is very self fulfilling because it allows you to feel like you have achieved something in order to be able to give. It is an interesting process of joy that comes from benefiting another that simultaneously gives you great feeling. If you think about Eriksson's stages of development, they move through from the very beginning stages like trust versus mistrust and autonomy versus shame when you are little; and then you move through adolescence and there are a couple of other ones of identity and versus world diffusion as an adolescent. Then once you get to adulthood, the first one is intimacy versus isolation then it moves into generativity versus stagnation which is when you are really working on giving back and giving to others. So when you are generative through your work or through altruism, it then allows you to reach the final development of challenge which is the integrity versus despair. So integrity has a great deal of happiness in campus within and despair of course, it does not. So those factors and those element if you keep making those choices along the way, it allow you to continue to grow, give yourself, give to others, you are expanding into maturity and wisdom of all ages instead of feeling like you are shrinking and constructing and limiting yourself as you start to come all through.