Are you happy? Are you content? Do you know the difference? Is there a difference?
It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to – I always thought I was happy. I laughed almost every day, felt settled at home and at work… but did that mean I was happy? Or did I not really have perspective on the bigger picture?
In the study of adults in 20 leading countries, more than three quarters of people said they were happy, but the majority of those asked wished their life was simpler. They had concerns about the future, the (fast) growing pace of globalisation and the effects of inequality.
I hadn’t even considered these factors when trying to figure out my happiness levels.
That said, when people were asked about their personal lives; their families and local communities, the response was more optimistic and positive. Whilst these did feature on my ‘Am I happy?’ list, they weren’t important – they weren’t a decision maker for me at the time.
Ben Page, Ipsos Mori’s chief executive says, “Against a pessimistic backdrop, this report shows the global public’s tendency towards nostalgia, allied to a strong sense that traditions are important, and a desire for a slower pace of life and simplification”.
It’s true – life passes by so quickly and it’s all too easy to miss opportunities and take for granted the smaller things that come our way. Like precious time with family and friends, having a quick catch up with your friends at the gym, taking time to appreciate what’s around you. All things that, on paper, seem so obvious, but not when hitting the gym becomes a chore and taking time out to socialise with your nearest and dearest feels like an inconvenience.
But what can you do?
Well, we all have our own ways of dealing with the challenges of everyday life, but for me, what worked was putting me first. Not in a selfish way (me, selfish?!), but in a way that made everything I did and do, no matter how big or small, count.
I started by ripping up my list – there’s no way to determine how happy you are, in my opinion. Just by taking notice of what and who was around me, the challenges I’d faced, the opportunities that came my way and by taking time just for me – for my goals, my aspirations and for my health in general – gave me a feeling of what I believe is happiness.
It’s my wellbeing, my energy, my positivity and my power to control far more than I first thought.
We can’t always control what goes on around us – it’s a big wide world, but we shouldn’t be ignorant to the factors that contribute to our everyday living. For me, acknowledgement and appreciation is key. They are two things we can all do with very little effort, but can actually make a world of difference to how we feel.
So, to answer my own questions, I’d say there was a difference in contentment and happiness. Maybe what I felt when I lived in the moment was contentment. I enjoyed what happened when it happened, but didn’t take into consideration the bigger picture… my own wellbeing.
More so than I first thought, my whole wellbeing is important; that includes contentment – the ‘living for the moment’ moments – my overall happiness and health.
After reading the article in The Guardian and reflecting on my own wellbeing, my pledge to myself is to take notice of as much as possible everyday, not just about me, but of what is happening around me. By doing this, I hope to continue feeling as positive and energetic as I am currently, so that I’m able to appreciate others and occasions far more. I can help out when my community needs me and I can support when my friends, family – even complete strangers – need me.
What would your pledge be to yourself, to ensure your own wellbeing and happiness?
Danielle Dixon, ICE Creates Ltd (email@example.com)
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