Happiness is something we all want, but it is something that is hard to define and quantify. Many people confuse happiness with pleasure, fun and enjoyment.
Is Happiness Unrealistic?
Some believe that it is unrealistic to even talk about a pursuit of happiness and that it is pop psychology or something that should be left to the Dalai Lama – and not something for professional psychologists to get involved in.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Happiness, or being happy, is merely being in a state of good mental health and wellbeing. While it is unrealistic to “be happy” all of the time, people can learn to understand their sense of self, what happiness means to them, what brings them happiness and how to go about living their life in ways that aligns with their needs for happiness.
I first began utilising the concept of “happiness” some 17 years ago when starting out in private practice, drawing from Buddhist philosophy and principles that propose that happiness is something to be worked on every day of our lives; but it is work that we should enjoy doing.
Like a Garden …
A good analogy is a garden. For a garden to be productive, it must be attended to from the time the soil is prepared, planting the seed, tending to the seedling, nurturing the mature plant, and of course harvesting the crop; the fruit of our labour!
Attending to the happiness in our lives is like the garden. The more effort we put in, the greater the rewards will be. There will be setbacks, and so work needs to be done to predict potential problems as accurately as possible, and to have alternatives and contingencies in place. Developing resourcefulness and resilience go hand in hand with happiness development.
Happiness and Sense of Self
There is a strong link between happiness and our sense of self. Over time we are constantly changing and adapting to the world around us, and as we change so does our sense of self and our needs for happiness. It is very common for all of us to “lose” our sense of self over time; very few people take the time to review their sense of self in relation to the present. We live in times of constant and rapid change, and as humans we change as we interact with the world. As we change we must review our sense of self and our needs for happiness.
In therapy, I work with my clients to identify their changed needs for happiness, and assist in the development of a personal strategic plan for happiness, based on the current sense of self.
Author: Greg Turner, B App Sc, Grad Dip App Sc (App Psych), Cert GMH, MAPS.
Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner is a national leader in the field of transcultural mental health, after spending over a decade in senior positions at the Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre. He sees his role as a facilitator to enable clients to recover their psychological strength, grow as human beings, and become equipped with strategies to deal with life’s problems as they present into the future.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Greg Turner, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.