The Nuts & Bolts of Happiness

Happy: Expressing pleasure, contentment or gladness (Macquarie 3rd Edition)

Welcome to the first post in the 12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion series!

From the outset, let’s be clear that your happiness will be unique to you and may look entirely different to everyone else’s. That is totally ok! You are unique so it only makes sense that your version of happy will be unique as well. This series is merely a set of tools to help you enjoy your own version of happy in 2014!

So, let’s get started!

Macquarie’s definition of happy is a great starting point to consider  happiness, however for our purposes it’s time to dig a little deeper. True happiness goes beyond the expression of pleasure and is closely correlated to our overall sense of health and wellbeing, along with the realisation of capabilities for human flourishing.

Numerous studies from around the world demonstrate that once a base level of survival has been achieved, happiness and self-perceived well-being do not rise in correlation to income. This rapidly disperses the myth of ‘oh I’d be happy if I earned more’!

Drawing on the early work of Amartya Sen, American scholar Martha Nussmaun identified the below as essential for human well-being.

  1. Life (being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length)
  2. Bodily health and bodily integrity (to be secure against violent assault)
  3. Having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and choice in matters of reproduction
  4. Practical reason (being able to form a conception of the good life)
  5. Affiliation (being able to live with and toward others)
  6. Play, and control over one’s environment.

In the developed world, many of us are fortunate enough to have 1-3 fairly well covered with only the occasional hiccup, so let’s look in more detail at points 4-6 and how they may relate to you. Ask yourself the following;

  • What does my version of the ‘good life’ look like?
  • Do I feel deeply connected to others? Am I part of a community?
  • Does my environment feel out of control? Am I overcommitted and surrounded by clutter?

Think long and hard about the answers to these questions. In order to embark on a journey towards greater happiness and well-being, we must first acknowledge where we are starting from!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be happy with the answers to one or two of these questions and the others will provoke some soul searching. This is a perfect position to start from and a great place to finish up for this month.

Next month we will take start to strip away the excess and begin the great declutter to help us regain control over our environment. There will be some handy hints for the beginner and some great links to fantastic blogs for those that are further into their decluttering journey.

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2 thoughts on “The Nuts & Bolts of Happiness

  1. I think about happiness a lot. Since we began simplifying we are ‘simply’ happier. I sometimes try to analyse what exactly has changed, but in the end I usually decide that it is easier to accept it as a blessing than question it. I know a lot of people who appear unhappy and I can see that the things that have made me happy won’t necessarily make them happy. I think you are very right – everyone has a different version of a happy life. Ours is simple and gosh, I’m so glad it’s that way!

    • Thanks guys, I’m so glad to hear that simplifying has made you ‘simply’ happier. It’s amazing how making a conscious effort to uncomplicated life can make the complicated things so much easier to deal with and help you to become happier overall. Perhaps it frees up more mental space?

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