I have often asked myself this question, hoping that it would act as a compass to guide me whether I am in a good place or need to change something. And well-meaning friends have asked me this question, too, wanting to know that I am doing well.
Yet it is sometimes a hard question to answer, because we are not happy every minute of the day. Also, how do we gauge happiness – do we set an internal standard or do we try to compare ourselves to others? And how would we know how happy others truly are?
So I was curious to read Tal Ben-Shar’s book “Happier”, in which he suggests a more helpful question to ask. The question is “How can I become happier?”
He argues that the pursuit of happiness is an ongoing process, not a destination. This finite point when we finally reach perfect happiness does not exist, but we can definitely bring more happiness into our lives.
I always tell people that loving yourself is a practice, not a one-time thing that you do. It’s like working out – you don’t just go the gym once and are set for the rest of your life. Similarly, you don’t just accept yourself and show self compassion once and are done. And in the same way, you don’t just pick a pursuit that makes you happy and are complete.
We sometimes wish for a quick fix, but the truth is that in order to reach most things that we want, we need to establish a practice. Ideally, it’s something we do regularly at a specific time, and is motivated by something that is deeply meaningful to us.
Because I value being present and aware, my morning Tai Chi practice is very important to me. Since connection, self-expression, and feeling alive are meaningful to me, my weekly dance classes are one of my priorities. And they both contribute to my happiness. What values are important to you and how do you choose to practice them regularly in your life?