The search for happiness seems to have been around as long as there have been sentient beings on the planet. Now, the definition of happiness has a tendency to be different from person to person, culture to culture. The ancient Greeks went so far as to put “happiness” into four distinct levels. But do you realize that, ultimately, you are in control of your own happiness?
Philosophers and poets have brought forth their ideas on happiness and fulfillment. Brain scientists have researched and tested how the brain processes subjective and objective feelings of happiness and the effects on brain chemistry. And psychologists have long studied the effects of happiness on human decision-making. (Check out Dr. Martin Seligman’s outstanding work on Optimism and Pessimism.)
Another such study proposes that how human beings perceive Time has a lot to do with their level of happiness. It suggests that directing one’s focus onto the present and future can make people happier, healthier and lead to better relationships. This method, if you will, is called the Time Perspective Therapy and involves figuring out which of six different outlooks best describes each individual.
The best profile to have: a blend of high past-positive, a moderately high level of future orientation and a moderate level of present hedonism. In other words, you like your past, you work for the future (but not so much as to be a workaholic) and choose when to seek pleasure in the present.
Choosing to focus on the positives from your past, actively setting goals for the future, and enjoying each day as the gift that it is, provides a well-rounded and, most likely, happy life. The study cited above provides guidelines of where you are right now, and areas in which you might grow. The decision of what to do or not do, however, is entirely up to you. It always has been.