What makes a human being happy?
This is the essential question whose answer seems to elude the better of us.
When I look back upon the times in my life in which I felt the most joy, I see the following elements:
A sense of community: Feeling connected to those around us provides a sense of peace and well-being. Community is something that is greatly lacking in big cities and most modern cultures. Yet, it is possible to create in your neighborhood, workplace, school or wherever, a sense of community. It is the times in which I felt I had a solid support group of people whom I could learn from, grow with, laugh with, and love… in which a strong sense of meaning and well-being was derived.
Living up to your potential: It is an awful feeling to know that there is abode of unused potential, productive energy, and passion within oneself laying dormant. A being who does not channel their inner energies, passions or creative potentials will feel deadened over time. The poet who does not write, the carpenter who does not create things with his own two hands and the musician who bottles her song within her– for them, an inner weight will sink upon them over time.
Love: Directing your affection unto another living being is perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. However, it is soon realized that there are many other factors to well-being and happiness than feeling love for another. You must also focus energy on loving yourself: learning, growing and cultivating yourself as a self-respecting individual is essential to maintaining balance and inner-harmony.
Inner-growth and cultivation of wisdom: The widening of one’s mind and perspective, the evolution of the self toward betterment that occurs over a lifetime: without inner-growth, there will be inner stagnation. The human spirit tends to sink when it feels that it is not flourishing in this life.
Having new experiences: You need not travel around the globe to savor a new experience. Simply walking instead of driving, cooking an exotic new dish instead of takeout, having a profound conversation with a new friend: these are experiences that make us feel alive and allow us to feel like we are growing and learning as individuals. Mankind’s spirit soars when it is free to taste the many flavors of life.
Connection with nature: It is our natural state to dwell in and admire the beauty that our world has bestowed upon us, outside of our brick walls. There is a sublime inner joy and peace that arises within those who are able to connect with nature, for nature softly whispers the truth, both of ourselves and of life, if we are willing to listen.