There’s lots of reasons to feel happy with one’s lot in life. There’s probably just as many reasons to feel unhappy about it. But when asked, most of us just want to be happy – to feel contented and satisfied.
So what is it that makes us really happy? In answering this question about our personal wellbeing, many of us might agree that being happy involves financial security, being employed, and having someone close to love and to love us in return. When I asked a relative of mine for her thoughts, she replied that happiness for her comes from being healthy, and possessing a sound mind. “All the money and material possessions in the world are useless”, she says, “if you don’t have good physical and mental health”.
My relative may well be right. Professor Robert Cummins, who is holder of a Personal Chair in Psychology at Deakin University since 1997, sets out some interesting facts in his ten-year study of the wellbeing of Australians.
“The average Australian is generally happy, …And our state of happiness has been reliably constant for the last decade”, says Professor Cummins. In measuring how happy we are, Cummins states that, “Personal satisfaction concerns our subjective view of our own health, personal relationships, achievements in life, how safe we feel, community connectedness, future security, religion/spirituality and standard of living.”
In reporting on his findings, Professor Cummins says that over a decade, respondents indicated that they felt safer, more connected to their community, and more satisfied with their personal relationships than they did previously. But, overall satisfaction with their health, failed to increase.
This may seem surprising, given that Cummins believes that happiness is a natural state for humans. According to him, “We are all genetically programmed to have normally positive levels of happiness and contentment. We all have this genetic generator of positive mood to give us our good feelings. This generator is very resilient and most of the time is able to help us bounce back when bad stuff brings us down.”
So how do we achieve satisfaction with our emotional and mental wellbeing? There’s an old saying concerning the three rules of happiness – we all need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. These rules seem fairly straight forward and easy to understand. Less clear though, is how we can achieve and maintain such a positive, happy frame of mind.
There’s one way that many people have found works for them in achieving a consistent feeling of mental wellbeing. It’s the result of spiritually-based thinking. Good mental health doesn’t have to be a fragile commodity. Happiness can be thought of as a spiritual quality that resides permanently in our consciousness. Because of this, it’s possible to expect to feel normal and positive about ourselves. That normalcy can be supported by a connection with the divine source of comfort and assurance.
At one period in my life, I found it hard to remain happy. Little things that went wrong could upset my applecart, and plunge me into unhappiness. When this happened, it was difficult for me to stop feeling gloomy. This changed when I began to reason, that possessing balanced thinking was native to me. It seemed entirely possible that a divine Creator had spiritually ‘programmed’ me, to be happy and stay happy. Because of this, I could actually resist depression.
This may appear to be quite a radical change of view, and I have to confess that it was for me. The good thing is, that this way of thinking spiritually about myself had a positive outcome. Instead of staying depressed, I was able to bounce back quickly. I even reached the point where little things ceased to drag me down mentally. What a relief!
When contemplating how to be happy, it’s encouraging to know that balanced thinking, contentment and satisfaction, don’t exist “out there” somewhere. Happiness doesn’t have to be found and then acquired. It’s within consciousness. We have it already.
That’s why Professor Cummins offers this advice about happiness . He says. “Stop looking for it. …If life is reasonably comfortable, without a dominating source of distress, happiness will find you.” How good to know that we can let contentment and satisfaction find us – be expressed in us. It’s the kind of knowledge that defeats despondency, and enables us to have good mental health.
I’m a professional Christian Science Practitioner and Teacher. Through my prayer-based practice, I help people find happiness, health and healing. As a writer on the connection between spirituality and health I share inspiring can-do tips and ideas.