Tuesday, April 17, 2012

40 Pieces of the Happiness Puzzle - Part 2

Happiness Puzzle

Being happy is a state of being most everyone wants to experience. There are a range of ways to experience feelings of happiness, with certain methods working better for some than others. 

This is the 2nd installment in a series on happiness, which began with Sensory Hedonism, the act of "paying attention to the information you receive from your senses" and "allowing for it." 

#2: Achievable Challenges

One of the basics of happiness involves the steps of setting and reaching our goals, as opposed to the frustration and disappointment we feel when we do not. Setting goals and achieving them is, in a sense, a relatively easy route to happiness. 

However, goals that are "too easy" are not that rewarding. Our brains want us to improve and grow, allowing for the feeling of happiness only when we feel we deserve it. 

There is a focus that overcomes you when you're in the midst of reaching for something. A steadfast determinedness sometimes described as "the flow" where times seems to fly by. 

Athletes know that part of finding the flow is letting go of the self. When you are immersed in doing something, you lose track of your sense of identity. 

When, for example, you're out on the trail early in the morning, the birds are chirping, the air is crisp, and other than the occasional passer-by, all you hear is the sound of your own heart beating and the pounding of your feet on the ground below you, a feeling overtakes you and you're not thinking about how many miles you have to run, you're enjoying the journey and the sights. 

The trees seem to burst out with green pulsating vibrance, the sky is bluer than blue, the colors of the season announce their presence, and the clouds are soft and white. It's a great feeling - being alive - and in this moment you aren't at all self-focused... you're just there, soaking up the entire experience. 

Staying in the moment can sometimes be a challenge for individuals who have difficulty letting go of the self. 

There's a curious work-play paradox going on when you set goals for yourself and are in the process of achieving them. 

While images of happiness often times depict people lying on the beach or making lots of money, sitting on the beach quickly becomes boring and making money turns empty when there are no discernible goals in place to keep one motivated toward achievement. 

This is not to say that the experience of just 'being' or sitting on the beach isn't a piece of the happiness puzzle, but like the complexity of any subject, humans seem to fare best when challenged. 

One thing is for certain, when we get lost in the action of doing something, we're more focused on the "doing" than on the "achieving" or even on the feeling of being "happy."  

Thinking about what we want out of life, planning our way there in steps that challenge us to reach deep within and pull from us a quality that inspires and motivates us to move forward, is recognizably of significant value to us, and therefore, a piece of the happiness puzzle. 

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