What Makes Us Happy

I recently read this transcription of a TED talk about happiness and I absolutely loved it. It was one of those things that made me feel good about the way I live my life. But it’s probably a bit like watching the movie Garden State – some people see it as a rallying cry and others see it as completely laughable. If you’re the former, you’ll probably like this TED talk. If you’re the latter … maybe not so much. The basic point was this: RELATIONSHIPS, not money or prestige or fame, keep people happy and healthy.

So many of us invest our time into things that we think will make us happy; then we reach our goals and can’t figure out why we’re still unfulfilled. It seems to have only gotten worse with the rise of social media, where there’s a never-ending competition of who’s the most awesome (or whose life is the most FML-worthy, but I digress). We’ve started living our lives based on fantasies of how our social media friends will react rather than strengthening relationships with our actual friends.

The study described in the TED talk shows us that, by neglecting those around us, we are actually neglecting our own wellbeing. Connectedness with real people helps us get through the highs and lows of life, bolsters our physical and emotional health, and even “protects our brains”. This is something that we probably all know on an intuitive level, but then our thoughts get in the way and freak us out. They tell us that we need to keep up with the Joneses and get promotions or titles faster, or buy more things, or try to become famous for nothing, and THAT will make us happier than enjoying time with the people around us. And maybe it does for a little bit, but it’s fleeting. True happiness comes from the heart, not the pocketbook or social media; your heart gets filled with memories, laughter, and love, not money and digital thumbs ups.

Buddy and I sometimes talk about what we want to remember about our lives and what we want to be remembered for. When I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to remember how I missed out on a dance recital/soccer game/band concert because I was too busy working. I want to remember the family vacations we took and happy hours with friends and delicious meals with my loved ones. I want to be remembered for being someone who was kind and giving of her time and heart. In the wonderful words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I’ve been really blessed to have people in my life who made me feel supported and loved; they have empowered me, cried with me, challenged me, eaten their feelings with me, hugged me, and reminded me that we all have a purpose in this world – to serve others in some way. I hope I do the same for them, but will resolve to try harder next year if I don’t!

On that note, I leave you with the lyrics from one of my favorite church songs, written by Richard Gillard, which sums things up better than I ever could:

The Servant Song

Will you let me be your servant?

Let me be as Christ to you.

Pray that I may have the grace to

Let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey.

We are trav’lers on the road.

We are here to help each other

Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you

In the nighttime of your fear.

I will hold my hand out to you

Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.

When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.

I will share your joy and sorrow

‘Til we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,

We shall find such harmony

Born of all we’ve known together

Of Christ’s love and agony.

Hope you all have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve! See you in 2016!

4 thoughts on “What Makes Us Happy

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