How do you measure happiness? Do we actually know when we’re happy and appreciate it? Do we know when we’re unhappy and make changes to rectify it?
I’ve always considered myself a happy person. Yes I have been depressed in the past, but I have still found moments of happiness in those brief periods. My baseline of ‘normal’ fluctuates occasionally – so those moments of happiness are sometimes more subdued or less frequent. The changes I’ve made to my lifestyle over the past 3 months (moving to England, and basically doing more, resulting in living healthier) have recently made me think a lot about happiness. I know for sure that I feel wonderfully happy at the moment – and being a scientist I like to understand cause and effect. The thing is, the year before we moved I didn’t feel depressed or particularly unhappy. I just knew something wasn’t right, and something needed to change. Or put another way – there was potential for greater happiness in my life, and who wants to miss out on a chance to be super happy!?
This feeling, was just that – a feeling, an intangible, an unknown. I took a huge risk in selling up and moving my family around the world based on an emotion – a desire to be happier. Writing that makes be shudder a little – wtf was I thinking? – More to the point my husband and children all went along with it without question! Does that mean we were guided by this ‘universal energy’, or similar, that I keep reading about in my ‘how to be a better person’ books? I’ll probably never know, but I have learned that if I trust my instinct and apply a little effort, I normally land in the right place. I have countless examples over my lifetime from deciding where to go to University, to changing careers to facilitate my relocation. I don’t remember doing any of these consciously – but something guided me in the right direction!
If we assume our level of happiness is unlimited why would we limit ourselves to our current level of happiness, especially when I’m certain happiness and health are correlated? It’s great to say ‘I’m happy’ – but what if we could increase our happiness and be happier!? I’m not suggesting we all take risks as monumental as my own, but why not take a few smaller ones? That class you wanted to take, or that new career you’ve been hankering for? A couple of friends have recently embarked on their v2.0 by beginning new careers in their late 40s, and this has got me thinking about what is next for me? How do I further increase my happiness quotient? Better to say oops, than never to try, right? My track record tells me it’s unlikely to be an oops.