Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

I noticed that every so often I run posts on happiness and am trying to decide if I should be irritated with myself. I mention this because it almost makes me wonder if  I have made any progress making some of the changes that I want made in my life. The words in the block quote below are 2.5 years old so one would think that within that span of time I would have made some changes.

Upon some reflection it is clear to me that I have made progress and that I am not where I was. There is some comfort in that but it still irks me to see how much farther I wish to go. That being said I think that some of the hard work has been done. Specifically I have identified some of the things that are most important to me and am pushing to bring those elements into my life while removing the others.

You should have seen the first draft of this post. It was pathetic. A collection of pithy phrases and gibberish that I am embarrassed to say came from my hands. Ok, it came from the melon on top of my shoulders. Anyway, I decided to try again.

Within the last ten years or so of my life I have been a part of or witness to some events that have made me focus on trying to identify the things and people in life that are most important to me. Some of them have been obvious and some have been less so.

I suppose that you can attribute some of this to painful mistakes that have made me take a hard look at myself. One of my great challenges is that I am very hard on myself. Sometimes I look at choices I have made and I just want to kick myself for picking the wrong door.

Friends of mine have told me that as one door closes another one opens but I always have trouble accepting that. It is a feel good statement that doesn’t always make me feel good. So I have chosen to take a slightly different approach and ask myself some very simple questions about what I want in life.

At the root level it is a question of who do I want around me. Who makes me happy. Who makes me feel good. Who stimulates me. What sort of work do I want to do. Not what pays the bills, but what kind of work inspires me to wake up in the morning.

What kind of things do I need. I truly don’t need much, but I do need some things and I haven’t any problem saying that.

Now I haven’t provided much in the way of details and I am not sure if I am going to in this post. Much of this is incredibly personal and I am not really sure how comfortable I feel sharing it. I’ll provide some general answers. In order to protect what little anonymity remains I am going to qualify this and say that I may already have some of the items I list here, or maybe not.

Let’s start with companionship. I want someone who makes my heart pound and my blood boil.
They don’t have to and shouldn’t agree with everything I say or like. It is good to have a few differences. But I want someone that I like and that I can speak with about anything.

It is not about someone to have fun with, but someone to have a life with.

Possessions- I want a comfortable house that I can entertain in when I feel like but it must be a home. I want a good stereo and a good television. I love music and sometimes I’ll want to watch a ballgame or cuddle up for a movie.

I want a great library of books to read and a comfortable chair to read them in.

That is pretty much it. Obviously it is not detailed. I didn’t forget family and friends. They are critical elements in my life and I want them too.

In between all this or maybe I should say wrapped into this I’d love to travel and enjoy some very fine meals.

Off the top of my head, that is pretty much it. The rest is commentary.

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55 Comments

  1. Kristen May 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about happiness and the same thought often crosses my mind: if I’m still thinking and writing about it, how much happier am I really?

    But I think I agree with Miss Britt and JCO: I’m learning more and more that the journey is where it’s at.  And you’re onto something too:  trying to identify what you want and making room for more of it by eliminating the stuff that gets in the way of it.

    • The JackB May 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      @Motherese_Kristen:disqus I like thinking about it. I find some of it to be quite interesting and pleasurable.

      The trick is to be present in all that we do. I sometimes get caught up in wondering about it, but most of the time I find it easy to look at the small moments in time that made me smile.

  2. Kristen May 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about happiness and the same thought often crosses my mind: if I’m still thinking and writing about it, how much happier am I really?

    But I think I agree with Miss Britt and JCO: I’m learning more and more that the journey is where it’s at.  And you’re onto something too:  trying to identify what you want and making room for more of it by eliminating the stuff that gets in the way of it.

    • The JackB May 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      @Motherese_Kristen:disqus I like thinking about it. I find some of it to be quite interesting and pleasurable.

      The trick is to be present in all that we do. I sometimes get caught up in wondering about it, but most of the time I find it easy to look at the small moments in time that made me smile.

  3. Leon Noone May 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    G’Day Jack,
    Lots of comments on my blog post, Essendon beating Collingwood by a point, the Louis Armstrong solo on ‘Alligator Crawl” and all sorts of things. But if forced into a corner I’d go for grandchildren.

    But were you to ask what makes me pleased or content………..

    Regards

    Leon

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      @3884c43f625610ab1bb99b677867ea2a:disqus My father has made the grandchildren into his hobby.  They have no idea that the man they see is someone I barely recognize. Actually that is not true, I remember seeing this guy show up sometimes. 😉

      Of course I still think that it is unfair for them to get away with so much stuff that I never could have, but such is life.

      • Leon Noone May 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

        G’Day Jack, 
        I just can’t resist this. It’s my 18 year old granddaughter’s favourite riddle.
        Q Why do grandchildren and grandparents get on so well?
        A They share a common enemy. 
        I think you have to be a grandparent to fully appreciate that riddle. Be patient Jack.

        Regards

        Leon

  4. Leon Noone May 26, 2011 at 5:14 am

    G’Day Jack,
    Lots of comments on my blog post, Essendon beating Collingwood by a point, the Louis Armstrong solo on ‘Alligator Crawl” and all sorts of things. But if forced into a corner I’d go for grandchildren.

    But were you to ask what makes me pleased or content………..

    Regards

    Leon

    • The JackB May 26, 2011 at 6:37 am

      @3884c43f625610ab1bb99b677867ea2a:disqus My father has made the grandchildren into his hobby.  They have no idea that the man they see is someone I barely recognize. Actually that is not true, I remember seeing this guy show up sometimes. 😉

      Of course I still think that it is unfair for them to get away with so much stuff that I never could have, but such is life.

      • Leon Noone May 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm

        G’Day Jack, 
        I just can’t resist this. It’s my 18 year old granddaughter’s favourite riddle.
        Q Why do grandchildren and grandparents get on so well?
        A They share a common enemy. 
        I think you have to be a grandparent to fully appreciate that riddle. Be patient Jack.

        Regards

        Leon

  5. Davina K. Brewer May 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Doing some of this lately Jack and may be inspired to run a ‘draft’ as a post and see what happens. 

    Picking wrong door… if only I could undo even 10% of those. Pithy platitudes from friends.. it’s the ‘rah rah motivational’ garbage that actually demotivates me. It’s easy to say it, but try something constructive and tell me how, give me more than ‘just do it’ pep talkiness. IDK. I’m reluctant to turn hobbies and interests I love into vocations and careers; when paying the bills is contingent upon that I fear it’ll lose the fun. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy much of what I do but it’s not what I live for, not even close.

    I live for play, for fun, for family and friends, real and imaginary ones inside the Internet. Stuff: other than credits at the Apple store, think I feel ya. Relationships, I am the last person who can help but the Depeche Mode song, “Somebody” came to mind when reading your post. FWIW.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:40 am

      @davinabrewer:disqus I don’t want to make you feel bad, but I heard some kid refer to Depeche Mode as old people music. Of course I was ready to smack him around just because that is my generation he is talking about. 😉

      The rah rah stuff gets old for me too. I don’t buy into “The Secret” and think that the “Law of Attraction” is a stretch. Attitude makes a difference. If you surround yourself with happy people it rubs off as does negative.

      But being happy and simply wanting something isn’t enough. Work is involved and that is ok.

  6. davinabrewer May 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Doing some of this lately Jack and may be inspired to run a ‘draft’ as a post and see what happens. 

    Picking wrong door… if only I could undo even 10% of those. Pithy platitudes from friends.. it’s the ‘rah rah motivational’ garbage that actually demotivates me. It’s easy to say it, but try something constructive and tell me how, give me more than ‘just do it’ pep talkiness. IDK. I’m reluctant to turn hobbies and interests I love into vocations and careers; when paying the bills is contingent upon that I fear it’ll lose the fun. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy much of what I do but it’s not what I live for, not even close.

    I live for play, for fun, for family and friends, real and imaginary ones inside the Internet. Stuff: other than credits at the Apple store, think I feel ya. Relationships, I am the last person who can help but the Depeche Mode song, “Somebody” came to mind when reading your post. FWIW.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      @davinabrewer:disqus I don’t want to make you feel bad, but I heard some kid refer to Depeche Mode as old people music. Of course I was ready to smack him around just because that is my generation he is talking about. 😉

      The rah rah stuff gets old for me too. I don’t buy into “The Secret” and think that the “Law of Attraction” is a stretch. Attitude makes a difference. If you surround yourself with happy people it rubs off as does negative.

      But being happy and simply wanting something isn’t enough. Work is involved and that is ok.

  7. John Cave Osborne May 25, 2011 at 5:34 am

    long time no visit. hope all is well. i’m w/ miss britt on this one. happiness isn’t something you plug into your GPS and arrive at. happiness is in the journey.

    i think.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:35 am

      @johncaveosborne:disqus Brother, it is good to see you. I kind of figured that you would be busy,  with four kids and one on the way.

      We agree here about it not being a destination. But hiking on some Appalachian trail can bring moments of happiness and satisfaction.

  8. Anonymous May 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    long time no visit. hope all is well. i’m w/ miss britt on this one. happiness isn’t something you plug into your GPS and arrive at. happiness is in the journey.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      @johncaveosborne:disqus Brother, it is good to see you. I kind of figured that you would be busy,  with four kids and one on the way.

      We agree here about it not being a destination. But hiking on some Appalachian trail can bring moments of happiness and satisfaction.

  9. Kyle Bradford May 25, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Having the right people around you is so overlooked. We want all of these things for ourselves but we surround ourselves with the opposite..I call it intentional relationships.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

      @ChopperPapa:disqus Intentional relationships is a good description. i have a friend who dates women that make him insane. Even though he knows this he continues to pick partners whose personality will drive him up the wall.

      There is a lot to be said for surrounding yourself with people who don’t bring drama into your life.

  10. ChopperPapa May 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Having the right people around you is so overlooked. We want all of these things for ourselves but we surround ourselves with the opposite..I call it intentional relationships.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      @ChopperPapa:disqus Intentional relationships is a good description. i have a friend who dates women that make him insane. Even though he knows this he continues to pick partners whose personality will drive him up the wall.

      There is a lot to be said for surrounding yourself with people who don’t bring drama into your life.

  11. Bill Dorman May 25, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Sounds good to me and fortunately I do have that. And because of that, I don’t want for much.

    What makes me happy is engaging with people; I get my energy from this. I love to be in a position to support or help people when I can; it brings satisfaction.

    I had this conversation with my wife last night, but I told her on the surface I can be a very simple person. I don’t try to over think too much and things out of my control remain just that. Therefore, I rarely get anxious about anything and I sleep pretty good at night.

    Yes, there are many things I think very deeply about but I’m ok w/ my persona just being a simple guy; what you see is what you get.

    I find my happiness from within and fortunately I’ve always been a positive, looking for the best kind of guy.

    Good to see you Jack.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

      @a76049f6a32a1e633a732b81bafb98c9:disqus Bill you touch upon the key- happiness comes from within. Happy people are happy with themselves. When I look inwards I focus on what makes me smile or frown.

      Simple is good- bloom where you are planted. Nothing wrong with that, it is better in my mind.

      Thanks for coming by, look forward to seeing you again.

  12. Bill Dorman May 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Sounds good to me and fortunately I do have that. And because of that, I don’t want for much.

    What makes me happy is engaging with people; I get my energy from this. I love to be in a position to support or help people when I can; it brings satisfaction.

    I had this conversation with my wife last night, but I told her on the surface I can be a very simple person. I don’t try to over think too much and things out of my control remain just that. Therefore, I rarely get anxious about anything and I sleep pretty good at night.

    Yes, there are many things I think very deeply about but I’m ok w/ my persona just being a simple guy; what you see is what you get.

    I find my happiness from within and fortunately I’ve always been a positive, looking for the best kind of guy.

    Good to see you Jack.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      @a76049f6a32a1e633a732b81bafb98c9:disqus Bill you touch upon the key- happiness comes from within. Happy people are happy with themselves. When I look inwards I focus on what makes me smile or frown.

      Simple is good- bloom where you are planted. Nothing wrong with that, it is better in my mind.

      Thanks for coming by, look forward to seeing you again.

  13. Britt Reints May 25, 2011 at 4:17 am

    I don’t think it’s about having a distance to go. Happiness isn’t a destination, you know?

    And this:

    “Specifically I have identified some of the things that are most important to me and am pushing to bring those elements into my life while removing the others.”

    That says success to me. 🙂

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:27 am

      @missbritt:disqus I see happiness as a mental destination. It is not physical, but it is place inside that provides comfort, security and contentment.

      The older I get the harder I focus on eliminating the things that detract from this.

  14. Miss Britt May 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I don’t think it’s about having a distance to go. Happiness isn’t a destination, you know?

    And this:

    “Specifically I have identified some of the things that are most important to me and am pushing to bring those elements into my life while removing the others.”

    That says success to me. 🙂

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      @missbritt:disqus I see happiness as a mental destination. It is not physical, but it is place inside that provides comfort, security and contentment.

      The older I get the harder I focus on eliminating the things that detract from this.

  15. Stan Faryna May 25, 2011 at 3:47 am

    I’d like to write a long response to this. But, honestly, I don’t know if you (Jack and Jack’s readers) appreciate my long comments. Sometimes, I even think that my long comments are intrusions on your space. Because that’s have you’ve defined things, Jack. And, today, I decided that I’m going to play by your rules. Because I like you, Jack. I like your questions. I like your manly stride. I empathize.

    May you find all the happy moments that belong to you, Jack.

  16. Stan Faryna May 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I’d like to write a long response to this. But, honestly, I don’t know if you (Jack and Jack’s readers) appreciate my long comments. Sometimes, I even think that my long comments are intrusions on your space. Because that’s have you’ve defined things, Jack. And, today, I decided that I’m going to play by your rules. Because I like you, Jack. I like your questions. I like your manly stride. I empathize.

    May you find all the happy moments that belong to you, Jack.

  17. Pingback: The Rules Of Blogging - The JackB

  18. IzzyMom May 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Research indicates that the thing that brings people the most happiness are their positive relationships with friends and family. I can agree with that. My family and friends do make me happy and each good memory of time spent with those I love is like another treasure in my collection.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

      @7a486a7a426f00378234831ef4c719b3:disqus I like to think of myself as a collector of moments in time. My favorite moments always include people. I enjoy food and can think of great restaurants that I have been to where I only sort of enjoyed it.

      The reason I sort of enjoyed it was because I was there on business and my dinner companions were people that I normally wouldn’t hang out with. Since they were clients I was obligated.

      Good friends and family are priceless.

  19. IzzyMom May 25, 2011 at 5:01 am

    Research indicates that the thing that brings people the most happiness are their positive relationships with friends and family. I can agree with that. My family and friends do make me happy and each good memory of time spent with those I love is like another treasure in my collection.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      @7a486a7a426f00378234831ef4c719b3:disqus I like to think of myself as a collector of moments in time. My favorite moments always include people. I enjoy food and can think of great restaurants that I have been to where I only sort of enjoyed it.

      The reason I sort of enjoyed it was because I was there on business and my dinner companions were people that I normally wouldn’t hang out with. Since they were clients I was obligated.

      Good friends and family are priceless.

  20. Alex May 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I might add, one thing that often makes people unhappy is comparing.  Comparing where you are in your life compared where you thought you`d be, or where others are.  What kind of things you have compared to others.  Choices you made compared to what you could`ve done.  No regrets my friend, just be in the moment as much as possible, around people you love.  That`s happy.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:17 am

      @d867f5b7346d6b0778f5db620991ecd5:disqus We’re in agreement. One of the best lessons of my childhood was growing up around kids who had more. I learned at an early age that I was happier when I didn’t compare what they had to what we had.

  21. Alex May 25, 2011 at 2:56 am

    I might add, one thing that often makes people unhappy is comparing.  Comparing where you are in your life compared where you thought you`d be, or where others are.  What kind of things you have compared to others.  Choices you made compared to what you could`ve done.  No regrets my friend, just be in the moment as much as possible, around people you love.  That`s happy.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      @d867f5b7346d6b0778f5db620991ecd5:disqus We’re in agreement. One of the best lessons of my childhood was growing up around kids who had more. I learned at an early age that I was happier when I didn’t compare what they had to what we had.

  22. Alex May 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I love happiness science!  I`m almost a happiness geek.  Happiness is so crazy because many of us think we know what will make us happy, but we`re usually wrong.  Or we know what will make us happy today so we strive for those things, but by the time we get them we`re different people and those things don`t make us happy anymore.  So, we`re a bunch of happiness-seeking unhappy people 🙂

    One thing you got right is people.  Spending time with people you care about is perhaps the prime producer of instantaneous happiness.  There is really nothing better, in any given second, than to be spending quality time with your mate or mates or family.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

      @d867f5b7346d6b0778f5db620991ecd5:disqus I think that some of this is based upon focus. Pop culture pushes us towards having certain things, especially material possessions. 

      I don’t see that. I can think of a lot of lonely people who own whatever catches their fancy. People make  the difference in life- we are social creatures. So the focus to me should be on finding the right people to be with.

  23. Alex May 25, 2011 at 2:51 am

    I love happiness science!  I`m almost a happiness geek.  Happiness is so crazy because many of us think we know what will make us happy, but we`re usually wrong.  Or we know what will make us happy today so we strive for those things, but by the time we get them we`re different people and those things don`t make us happy anymore.  So, we`re a bunch of happiness-seeking unhappy people 🙂

    One thing you got right is people.  Spending time with people you care about is perhaps the prime producer of instantaneous happiness.  There is really nothing better, in any given second, than to be spending quality time with your mate or mates or family.

    • The JackB May 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      @d867f5b7346d6b0778f5db620991ecd5:disqus I think that some of this is based upon focus. Pop culture pushes us towards having certain things, especially material possessions. 

      I don’t see that. I can think of a lot of lonely people who own whatever catches their fancy. People make  the difference in life- we are social creatures. So the focus to me should be on finding the right people to be with.

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