The answer most thinking people will give to the question ‘What do you want to achieve in retirement?’ would probably be ‘To be healthy and happy’. Achieving happiness is probably most peoples’ number one objective, yet we often don’t understand what happiness is and regularly act in a way that makes it difficult to achieve.
Lasting happiness comes from within us and can’t be achieved as a result of external events. A new car or expensive outfit will make us happy for a while, but the novelty wears off and we soon need another happiness fix.
Unfortunately a simple definition of happiness is not that easy to agree on. There are hundreds of definitions and hundreds of books about the subject. Here are a couple of definitions you might like to think about:
Happiness is a way of interpreting the world. However, while it’s difficult to change the world, it’s always possible to change the way we look at it.
Happiness is being in harmony with the world and with our self.
These two attempts came from a book simply called Happiness by Matthieu Ricard. It’s an interesting read.
Sidestepping the tricky task of finding the ideal definition of lasting happiness, a more practical approach is taken by professor Tim Sharp, the founder of The Happiness Institute. He suggests that by following six strategies, we will bring more happiness into our lives. Those strategies are:
The encouraging thought to consider is that achieving more happiness in our lives is largely in our own hands. It’s not fate or other people who will make us happy or unhappy. It’s how we view the world and how we react to the external events that impact on our lives. In other words, being happy is a skill we can learn and the more we practice that skill, the better we become at it.