Find Your Happiness
In my early youth (I say "early" youth because the older I get, the younger and more youthful I feel- today I am in my middle youth!)… I gazed upon the world with innocent child eyes. The view revealed individuals from all walks of life- some succeeding and triumphing, others wallowing in stress and despair. The underlying message: life's goal is achieving success, the American dream- buying a large suburban home, a new Mercedes Benz, and going on a family vacation. Yet, when I was around adults who had achieved financial success, they and their families and homes were not always full of joy. In fact, I noticed that their financial success often seemed to add stress to their life. Sometimes their increased material possessions appeared to be accompanied by less inner peace. One friend's father had a brand new, shiny red turbo Porsche, but I never once saw him drive it. It remained parked in the garage. I wonder if at times our drive for materialism 'parks our dreams in the garage'?
Growing up, Dad had a successful business. I learned a lot from spending time with the employees. There was a gentle and kind older man, Jon, a hardware expert and one of the hourly-paid employees. It was soothing being in Jon's presence; he was unassuming even as he was friendly. Yes, the employees were sometimes stressed, smoking cigarettes and complaining. Yet, many of them also had an alluring simplicity, a calmness that I knew I must have in my life to keep my humanity, regardless of my age or socioeconomic status.
I came to believe that the most important thing in life is to be happy and to have fun. I spent my energy making reverse layups, making girls laugh and generally causing a ruckus. There were some incredible moments, ups and downs, and many lessons learned along the way. Yet, my joy was never complete. Despite throwing big parties and being academically successful, there was a void. By the time undergraduate college ended, my 'major' was beer and girls, and I was uninterested in any career. The only thing that motivated me was helping others. So, with the goal of "saving the world" in mind, I set out for a two-and-a-half-year stint with the US Peace Corps in the jungles of Ecuador as a rural public health volunteer. What a tremendous learning experience! No phone, electricity, or running water, but an abundance of rainforest and opportunities to learn more about different peoples, cultures, languages, and philosophies. One of the profound lessons I discovered was that I had to "save myself" before I could "save the world."
Inspired to find the elusive secret to happiness, I began a spiritual pilgrimage and eventually met my wife. We have built our family together and hope for our eighth child this winter! As the years have gone by, I have learned that happiness has two key ingredients.
The first is loving and accepting ourselves, the world, and our surroundings. This part of the journey took me almost two decades to completely love and accept myself- with all my blemishes!
The second crucial component of our happiness is giving. Perhaps the most powerful way to be happy is to enable others to be happy. When we give of our time, energy, or resources, the positive feeling we receive is an elixir. Recently, I heard a powerful quote from actor Denzel Washington: "The most selfish thing you can do in this world is help someone else." Why is it selfish? Because the gratification, the goodness that comes to you, the good feeling that you get- nothing's better than that"
Psychotherapy is a highly effective way for one to become self-actualized and feel calmer and at peace within. Our happiness can blossom when we give ourselves the healing possibility of therapy.
If you are interested in healing and being more joyful and at peace, please get in touch with Aryeh for your free 15-minute consultation.