How to lead a happy life?

My brother Greg has been talking to me about this of late.

He’s been reading Sex Money Happiness and Death: The Quest for Authenticity by Manfred Ket de Vries, a psychoanalyst who’d spoken to many wealthy, successful people who did not feel happy. In this book, Manfred talks about finding meaning in life.

Greg, who graduated from university with an honours degree in psychology has always been interested in human behaviour.

He said to me today that some people detach themselves from pain because they want to numb themselves from sadness, but in the process, they give up on feelings of happiness, since in life, both come together as a package.

He also shared that many people won’t readily admit this, but people all live for someone or something else. It could be a pet, a spouse, parents or children, or even a passion, and this responsibility gives meaning to living.

So in his book, Manfred breaks down happiness into three very simple ingredients:

  1. Someone to love
  2. Something to do
  3. Something to hope for

I would love to go into greater detail but I have yet to lay my hands on a copy. I’m sure it’s a fabulous read, since my bookworm brother has endorsed it.

Of course a meaningful life means different things to different people, and our day can be made up of a series of meaningful acts… it just depends on what we consider meaningful, and what completes us as a person.

To me, friends and family make my life meaningful, as does writing, educating, raising awareness of environmental/vegetarian issues, eating healthily… and chocolate (as you can tell from my t-shirt!) and these things keep me happy in life.

If we acknowledge and appreciate all of the things that give our lives meaning, we would certainly be much happier people!


7 thoughts on “How to lead a happy life?

  1. Blocking negative emotions means blocking positive emotions as well, since they flow through the same channel.

    Another way of looking at it is that negative emotions serve a purpose as well. Interpreted in the correct perspective, they can be an useful energizer for positive change in life.

    • I sometimes forget that you studied psychology!

      You know I never realised that bit about blocking sadness until Greg mentioned it. I’ll never let that happen!! I refuse to deny myself happiness!

  2. I’ve always believed the secret ingredient here is what would could label an alternate consuming passion. Its not your biggest love in the world, but when other things in life become overwhelming it’s a great retreat and provides balance. In some ways you could call it double dipping in the pot of happiness 🙂
    I’m totally with you there on chocolate…mmm

  3. veg: yes we all need balance. If we take a long-term perspective on things, overwhelming problems become trivial.

  4. this is very interesting as hinduism talks about detachment and sufferring. we have to accept our suffering in this life time as it is our karma, in that act itself there is peace. At the same time we belief this is only a material world and we have to be detached but at the same time compassionate.

    check out this link it might give you more insight abt one of the oldest religion and how its take on how to lead a happy life.

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