When asked this question most people answer “love, lazy days on the beach, the perfect body, to be thinner, to be beautiful, to be rich, to have lots of money to what I’d love to do, to travel ….” And the list goes on …

But are these really things that would make you happy? or might you feel after experiencing this for a few weeks or months, begin to feel unfulfilled, unmotivated or even unappreciated?

Do you know that studies show that once people reach a certain level of happiness, comfort and material wealth that anything else above that doesn’t make any difference? People living in the west are no happier now than they were in the 1950’s although their real income has increased by over three times as much and the extent of things to help them around the house, career opportunities and many other things are greater. Across the world research has shown that an increase in wealth has no corresponding increase in happiness once a nation’s average income reaches a certain average point where the very basics are covered.

And how many times do you hear successful people who whilst they have all the trappings of a happy and amazing life, are only too willing to tell magazines and biographers, as well as their therapists that they are suffering despite their success!

Happiness is something quite difficult to achieve just for the sake of it. However, to solve the mystery psychologist Martin Seligman and the school of positive thinking has identified three sources of happiness all of which are within our reach. here they are;

i. Pleasure – This is to do with generating positive and immediate sensations. A good glass of wine. A stroll in the sunshine. A warm bubbly bath. Making love to a partner. Emotional triggers cause pleasurable sensations. The pleasurable life is packe dfull with feel good sensations; they may be short lived but they are highly enjoyable.

ii. Challenge – Pleasure is something we react to whereas a challenge is something that stretches us, physically or mentally. The pleasure we get from learning something new that has challenged out thinking, or doing something that has stretched us in the way of learning new skills, the happiness level achieved is far greater than the passive quick experiences described by pleasure.

iii. Meaning – This is where we consider what we are doing is worthwhile and of ‘value’ in some way. It might be a life’s work with people or simply doing the right thing for someone in your life. meaning comes from a greater purpose.. When we generate that sense of purpose ourselves it is more likely to have a contribution to our happiness.

Identifying these three sources is a useful start in working towards happiness. And if you combine them, your life will become much richer for doing so.

Article by: Wendy Howard

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