Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.

~ Edward De Bono ~

It’s Not The How Of Happiness But The Why

June 22nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 39 secs

The how of happiness is fine. But it’s the why that really counts.

Funny how we jump the gun. The how of happiness sounds like a compelling thing. After all, you can read a book or two, discover the formula, and ta da, you are happy. Wonderful. Shame so much of it is a load of rubbish.

I’m talking about the cult of celebrity and the “C’mon you can do it!” “Only believe in the power of the mystic chicken” kind of stuff. It’s everywhere, and it preys on our susceptibilities. With a cultic approach, people who ought to know better (even with degrees and PhD’s) are out to sell their dear grandmother, if only people will believe. This shabby hucksterism is manifest in pitching at people’s vanities. Declaring “You can have anything you want” they touch on our desires and make it seem as if you’d be a fool to refuse. “Simply believe now and you will have the universe at your beck and call for special low monthly installments.” Read this way, the how of happiness is simply about invoking, surrendering, commanding, or claiming.  Happiness is just another product, sold en masse. If it doesn’t work then there must be something wrong with you. After all, millions of devotees can’t be wrong. Wrong!

Sadly, focusing so heavily on the how of happiness merely skirts the surface. True, there are lots of good things that you can do to boost your happy feelings and they are worthy enough in their own right. But the problem goes further back than that. Wanting the way without the deeper treatment of examining our life is a classic reason why people feel displeased. It’s not the how of happiness that matters, but the why.

People’s tendency to get answers straight out of a box, book, or blister pack underline the real issue. Without knowing enough about the meaning behind their life, they rush to anything that promotes relief; be it a fad, wish, or yet another secret.

Then, the irony is that in devoting our complete attention to the how of happiness, we get distracted from what really matters. Happiness is important. But it arises as a byproduct from something of far greater worth: a life of purpose. When combined with a life of character, the combination gives us the kind of satisfaction people yearn for. Whereas, the canned happiness of ,“Yes, you too can be happy in 3 easy steps” is flawed to the core.

By knowing more about the whys in our life, everything gets put into perspective. So, I would suggest, techniques that boost our happy feelings are far less important than knowing what our meaning is. Unless the how of happiness is tempered with purpose, each book and movie touting the way to happiness becomes the dust-collecting equivalent of a Jane Fonda workout video: potentially helpful, but after a few goes you’d like to quietly forget about it.

I want to crack open the consumer mentality on happiness here and now. First and foremost, we are people; not objects that suck up products. Buying our happiness totally relies on our ability to appreciate in the first place. Fulfillment comes from personal purpose that you and I define and reveal through the character we apply. The how of happiness needs this for us to be truly satisfied. Techniques and tips to boost your happiness can be terrific and certainly improve things. But there is no substitute for knowing who you are. Correctly understood, the how of happiness relies on the why of life. Which means, this isn’t in someone else’s hands; only your own. I suspect that’s why so many people are quietly unhappy. They’re not sure who they are and what they’re meant to make of their life. That’s why the more we understand ourselves the happier we will be.


Comments are closed.