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Five Things That Create Happiness

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

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What is the direct route to happiness and joy? Let’s look at five things anyone can do to live a better life!

The path to greater happiness

Who doesn’t want to have more happiness in their lives? In my many decades on this earth, I have only met one person who seemed opposed to being happy. She got some kind of strange satisfaction from her lousy attitude and negativity. A relative of mine, she has since passed away. Despite her negative outlook, she lived to be 86.

Her life wasn’t always so negative, but the longer she lived, the worse she got. Her last few years were nothing short of terrible. Who wants to be around such people? Unfortunately, abandoning them when they are family is difficult, no matter how badly you want to. At least, I can’t.

There is no question most of us prefer being around happy, joyful, reasonably optimistic people. What does it take for a person to be happy? I ran across some wisdom recently that summarizes it well. A British journalist and author wrote the words and, by all indications, lived a long and happy life, passing at 95. She wrote:

“Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.” Margaret Ethel Storm Jameson (1891–1986)

Let’s look at these five capacities more closely. What exactly does Jameson mean by capacity? Her use of the term alludes to the ability to hold something, requiring either increasing what you can take in or replacing something else. This filling will create greater happiness and a fuller, richer life. Who wouldn’t want that?

Let’s look at Jameson’s five attributes.

Feel Deeply

Allowing yourself to feel deeply is healthy and cathartic. Too many of us push our emotions and feelings down. Suppressing them ensures they build pressure over time. When this pent-up pressure is released, it is rarely a pretty sight.

I would occasionally explode because I allowed myself to be under too much pressure at times. I was very self-conscious and didn’t want others to see me lose control, so I would release the pressure privately, usually in my car alone and parked.

I will never forget when I thought I was having a heart attack during a particularly stressful time at work. My wife rushed me to the emergency room. After checking me out thoroughly and running an EKG, the doctor said he could find nothing wrong and suggested it was from stress.

Yet some years passed before I learned to feel deeply, which happened when my first wife died from cancer at 51. I rarely had, if ever, allowed my eyes to even well up, much less cry.

Upon her death, I let go of the false notion I had to hold my feelings inside. I can not only shed a tear now but also feel more deeply than I ever allowed myself before her death.

The capacity I gained due to no longer caring what people thought if I became emotional amazed me. All I had to do was make room for it in my heart. If I had only known and accepted it earlier, I would not have had to go through tragedy to discover this capacity for happiness.

Enjoy simply

Some of life’s simple pleasures are far beyond anything you can buy. Because of my self-consciousness, it took me too long to realize this truth. When we let the culture and peer pressure push us into the success and material trap, it only fills us with anxiousness, displacing happiness in the long run.

Once again, I learned this from seeing my first wife suffer horribly from cancer. The home, cars, and all the trappings of success became meaningless. They meant nothing compared to my wife’s life. The biggest lesson I learned from this was what we own owns us. It steals our time and attention, each of which is invaluable.

Today I enjoy many simple pleasures. Little things that give me life, such as spending time with my wife, speaking with my brother and old friends, writing regularly, and playing the guitar. They cost nothing but the time and attention all those material things robbed. Thankfully my capacity to enjoy the simple things has replaced those old lusts and desires!

Think freely

Retiring has been an eye-opening experience. I had no idea how much my job and work occupied my mind. Yet, for years it met my need to keep learning. Since retiring at a reasonably young age over a decade ago, I have continued the learning I have always loved. I also enjoy freedom from concerns about the businesses I was involved in. It is a wonderful thing to be able to think freely about what I want when I want.

I hope anyone reading this whose mind is usually on their work, relationships, and the many concerns of life will find time to clear their minds. Even if you can do it for short periods, it will increase your happiness. You must make a conscious choice to make room and build this capacity into your life.

Why not learn about mindfulness and its amazing benefits? There is plenty of information on the internet about it. Even the simplest mindfulness exercise can bring instant relief, allowing you to build capacity for happiness. Do it, and you will never regret it!

For a simple mindfulness exercise you can learn in minutes, check out The following article:

Risk life

There are many things we can take a shot at risking in life. The one I wish I had taken far earlier was my ability to feel deeply. I am sure I missed many opportunities with my first wife because of my false beliefs. My reluctance and fear of shedding a tear, speaking from my heart, and being more open and honest with her were at fault.

I now know had I taken the risk, the reward would have been tremendous. While we had a good marriage, it could have been even better, and my regrets fewer. Fortunately, this lesson has taught me a new way to be with Jane, my current wife, and we have a wonderful life!

Why not take a risk to show and share your deepest feelings with your spouse occasionally? It will do each of you good and enlarge your capacity to take risks in other areas of life.

Be needed

Everyone wants to be needed by someone. Who needs you — your parents, spouse, children, family, friends, colleagues, pets, or others? A special dimension of happiness comes when you know you are needed.

Being needed by someone else in a good way helps you and them become more mature as you love and care for one another. When you know you are needed, you feel respected and valued, which increases your capacity to love and care, adding to your happiness.

Don’t forget others want to be needed too. Imagine the joy you can give by letting them know they are needed.

Final thoughts

I am so glad I ran across Jameson’s wisdom in my reading. It has filled my heart with joy and enlarged my capacity for happiness.

Life is short, so why not share this article with someone you care about? Discuss what you believe your capacity is in each area. Most of us need more in several or all five. Ask each other what you can do to increase your capacity. Try it with someone you love, and you can bet if done sincerely, each of you will make more room for happiness!

I leave you with some final wisdom from Jameson. Allow it to sink into your heart and bless you:

“The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable.” Margaret Ethel Storm Jameson (1891–1986)
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