Can you plan for happiness? Is it possible to know what will make you happy – and to act on it?
Hello and welcome to “The Keys to Happiness” e-series.
My name is Kenneth Benjamin. I am the founder of Happiness International, a business built around the idea that making the world a happier place, one person at a time, is something both highly desirable and completely possible.
Today, I’d like that one happier person to be you because you deserve to live in happiness and fulfillment.
I invite you to join me on a journey to discover the fundamentals of happiness and learn how you can use that knowledge to build your own lifelong plan for happiness.
Best of all, I’ll show you how you can build your plan based entirely on your needs, not on some preconceived notion of what will make you happy.
Now, relax, take a deep breath, and let’s jump right in.
How You Can Become Happy
How long has the pursuit of happiness been one of the main goals of mankind? Nobody can say for sure, probably for as long has humans have been on the planet.
What we know for certain is that philosophers and sages for at least the past 2500 years have devoted great energy to divining the secrets of happiness. As shrewd observers to the human condition, they each saw a part of the puzzle but none the whole. There was always something missing, until now…
It is only now, with the recent advent of positive psychology and neuroscience that we have, at last, become able to see the outline of a whole picture for happiness. It is only now that we have begun to understand what you need to be happy – and how you can get there.
What I’m going to share with you today is the result of mixing 2500 years of ancient wisdom with modern scientific research.
I’ll show you how to use that wisdom in a step-by-step process you can use to achieve greater happiness and set yourself on a lifelong path of happiness.
What is Happiness?
Let’s start by defining happiness, beginning with what happiness is not.
Happiness is not a sunny day at the beach, cool drink in hand, and waves lapping at the shore. That is pleasure, only one component of happiness.
Happiness is not a peak experience, like sex, a good meal, or that day at the beach. These are transient events best enjoyed and allowed to come to an end. If every day is a sunny day at the beach your brain starts to think, “hey, this is just another ordinary day” and you lose the pleasure that it previously got from that experience. This is known as “accommodation” but not the kind you want to stay in if you want to have pleasure.
So what is happiness, then? Here’s how I define happiness:
Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs.
Take a moment and think about that.
It’s pretty simple, right? When you have your needs met, then everything is just great, isn’t it?
That leaves two ways to reach happiness. Either you change your needs to meet what your life fulfills, which is the main direction Buddhism follows with great success.
The other, and the one I’m going to talk about from here on forward, is to change your life to fulfill your needs.
Neither way is necessarily better or worse, right or wrong. I just happen to find that changing my life is easier and ultimately more rewarding than changing my attitude to one of acceptance. I prefer to use aspects of Buddhism (as I do with other religions and philosophies) to help my life fulfill my needs.
So if you want to have your life fulfill your needs, that means you have to know your needs.
That is where, in the past, things were pretty confusing. Fortunately, the science of the brain is moving rapidly forward and we have insights that allow us to better understand the answers, both ancient and modern.
I did that integration between ancient wisdom and modern science. What I discovered and identified were nine elemental needs. Let’s have a look at what they are.
Your Fundamental Needs: An Introduction to the WE PROMISE Theory of Happiness
There are nine elemental categories of human needs that you must have fulfilled for complete happiness:
Wellbeing, Environment, Pleasure, Relationships, Outlook, Meaning, Involvement, Success, and Elasticity.
To help you remember them, just remember their easy acronym, WE PROMISE .
Let’s take a brief look at what each of these WE PROMISE terms mean.
Wellbeing deals with the mind-body connection, aspects of your physical body that affect your mood, and vice versa. Essentials such as sleep, fitness, a healthy diet, and low stress make up your Wellbeing needs.
Environment refers to aspects of your life that are external, but essential to your life. Safety, food, freedom, weather, beauty, and your home make up your environment and can have a powerful impact on your happiness.
Pleasurable experiences such as joy, sex, love, eating, and so on, are what most of us think of as happiness, though they are actually just one part of a happy and fulfilled life.
Relationships, in all their various kinds, are at the foundation of what it means to be human. For most of us, our happiness is partly dependent on the quality of those relationships.
Outlook is how you perceive and approach the world. Your outlook, has a great deal to do with your mood, happiness, adventurousness, and energy.
To feel fulfilled we need our lives to have meaning and purpose. Whether you believe the meaning of your life is under your control, or you choose to assign that meaning to a higher power, having this need fulfilled is necessary for happiness.
There is more to happiness than relaxing on a beach. While that beach might be quite Pleasurable for a while, especially if your Wellbeing need for Low Stress is not being met, to be truly happy you have to be engaged and actively involved.
Success is the recognition by others that what you do has value. It’s as simple as that. Money is a measure but money isn’t a good pathway to happiness, though it is a good pathway to Wellbeing, at least if you don’t have enough. Look to other measures of success such as learning, accomplishing your goals, the sense of doing things well, and externally such as with fame, and having a legacy to leave behind.
With all this talk of happiness you might assume that the secret to happiness is through purely positive thinking. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you know well, real life comes with challenges, pains, fears, and disappointments. Critical to your happiness is how you recover from these inevitable events, your elasticity.
Next Time…Discovering Your Path to Happiness
That’s all for part one. Take a little time and look over the WE PROMISE Elements and think about how your life is fulfilling your needs in these elemental needs.
Next time, we’ll see how you can begin to convert those needs into a plan of action, beginning by knowing your goals.
In the meantime, if you have questions, feel free to drop me a note.
Wishing you complete happiness,
Kenneth Benjamin and the Happiness International Team
P.S. If you’re impatient to get started and actually start changing your life to better meet your needs, you might wish to check out our Happiness Planner which makes the process we’ll be talking about over the next days much simpler.
P.P.S. Know someone who might want to be happier? Why not share this article with them?