Newsletter: The Best Way to Find Happiness

The Best Way to Find Happiness

All my life I’ve wondered what really constitiutes happiness. I’ve been able to have it for a while yet it seemed to evaporate and leave me pondering why I couldn’t keep it.

Lets take a look at a famous quote and look at both sides of this equation.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

What Emerson is really saying is that when we feel useful and know we have or are making a difference in the world then happiness is simply a by product. To focus on being happy is self serving and won’t actually create it.

Looking further into this dilemma I find that our brain produces chemicals known as neurotransmitters and hormones that create moods and states in our physiology. I’ve written about this before and will provide links to those articles at the end.

We know that the happiness neurotransmitter is serotonin, it provides contentment and long term happiness. It’s a permanent feeling. Dopamine on the other hand is what we produce when we are feeling pleasure and going after something. It’s based on getting a reward. It is self serving. Many confuse it with the serotonin production and the contentment feeling we get in our brain. Serotonin doesn’t come from external things.

Lets add oxytocin to the mix. It is a happy chemical that creates the good feeling of trust. It’s also what we feel when we experience empathy for someone. Writers always like to create it in their characters because it helps bond the reader with the character and creates emotion that will keep them reading.

Here are 17 ways you can cultivate that sense of purpose, feel useful, and experience contentment:

  1. Do Breathing Exercises:
    • Take several slow, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. It helps reduce anxiety and tension.
  2. Identify What’s Getting You Down:
    • Acknowledge what’s bothering you. Sometimes simply recognizing the issue can be helpful.
  3. Practice Self-Compassion:
    • Treat yourself with kindness. Challenge negative thoughts and speak to yourself as you would to a friend.
  4. Help Others:
    • Volunteer or assist someone in need. Acts of kindness boost your sense of usefulness.
  5. Learn New Skills:
    • Continuously learn and grow. Acquiring new knowledge makes you more valuable.
  6. Set Goals:
    • Define clear objectives. Working toward meaningful goals gives you purpose.
  7. Express Gratitude:
    • Appreciate what you have. Gratitude shifts your focus from lack to abundance.
  8. Connect with Loved Ones:
    • Strengthen relationships. Being there for others makes you indispensable.
  9. Organize and Declutter:
    • Tidy up your space. A clean environment fosters productivity and usefulness.
  10. Share Your Knowledge:
    • Teach others what you know. Sharing expertise benefits both you and them.
  11. Be Reliable:
    • Keep your promises. Dependability builds trust and usefulness.
  12. Create Art or Write:
    • Express yourself. Art and writing contribute to the world’s richness.
  13. Support a Cause:
    • Advocate for something you believe in. Make a difference.
  14. Listen Actively:
    • Be present when someone needs to talk. Listening is a powerful gift.
  15. Cook or Bake for Others:
    • Share homemade meals. Nourishing others brings fulfillment.
  16. Learn to Fix Things:
    • Basic repairs or troubleshooting skills are valuable. Fix what’s broken.
  17. Practice Random Acts of Kindness:
    • Small gestures matter. Hold the door, smile, or pay it forward.

Remember, feeling useful often comes from contributing to others and embracing personal growth. It is felt more in the mind than in the body. It is almost like an out of body spiritual experience. That’s what happiness is!

What are some common misconceptions about feeling useful?

  1. You Can’t Help How You Feel:
    • Fact: Emotions result from subjective interpretations (appraisals) of events. While emotions are automatic, understanding their origins allows us to influence them.
  2. Happiness Is About Pleasure Alone:
    • Fact: Happiness is more than momentary pleasure. It includes joy, gratitude, meaningful relationships, and overall life satisfaction.
  3. Being Useful Means Always Doing Something Big:
    • Fact: Small acts matter. Being useful can involve everyday kindness, listening, or supporting others.
  4. Feeling Useful Requires External Validation:
    • Fact: True usefulness comes from within. It’s about contributing, learning, and making a positive impact, regardless of external recognition.
  5. Usefulness Is Only About Productivity:
    • Fact: Usefulness extends beyond productivity. Emotional support, empathy, and compassion are equally valuable.
  6. Usefulness Is Age-Dependent:
    • Fact: Everyone can be useful, regardless of age. Wisdom, experience, and mentorship contribute significantly.
  7. Usefulness Is Only About Helping Others:
    • Fact: Self-care and personal growth are essential. Being useful to yourself allows you to better serve others.
  8. Usefulness Is Fixed:
    • Fact: Our usefulness evolves. Adaptability, learning, and resilience keep us relevant and valuable.

Remember, debunking these misconceptions helps us appreciate the multifaceted nature of feeling useful and fulfilled which creates contentment and happiness.

If you want learn more about this then take a look at this article I wrote entitled The Happy Brain Chemicals, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphin.

You may also like Understand These Two Neurotransmitters to Live a Happy Life.

Date and Time Display

Created by Martin Hamilton