I’ve been giving some thought to the topic of happiness. When I say “happiness”, I am not talking about “pleasures”, but things that truly last and do not have negative consequences. For example, one might take pleasure in gambling, but gambling can have a long-lasting negative effect on ones financial state.
So, here is my list of things that I have observed that bring unhappiness in people’s lives. I’ve listed them in the order that I have observed to have the most negative effect. (i.e. number 1 being the most detrimental)
1. Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs – Alcohol must be the most dangerous drug out there. I have even seen casual drinkers lives’ turned upside-down because of DUI or stupid mistake made under the influence of “just a little” beer, wine or alcohol. Alcoholics never recover – they go in to a maintenance mode that is a daily struggle to avoid the stuff. Tobacco is also very addictive and just ruins your health, makes you smell bad, and ruins your looks. And, any drug abuse is bad. Enough said.
2. Other additions – Whether it be on-line or roll-playing games, pornography, or obsessions that keep you from doing what you should, they ruin relationships, and without good relationships you will not find happiness. Humans are social beings and we require good relationships to be happy. Ask any psychiatrist or psychologist and they will tell you that we need each other. Additions isolate people who have them.
3. Sex Outside the Bonds of Marriage – For a married person, nothing will destroy a marriage as fast as infidelity. For the unmarried, you might think sex is fun, but when it results in pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease you might rapidly change your mind. There’s an old saying, it goes like this…. “Q. What do you call a young lady who practices birth control? A. Mommy.” Many people have had their marriages ruined too by the discovery of premarital relationships. It is simply not worth it in the long run. Hollywood makes it look so normal and glamorous, yet so many celebrities live such a shallow unhappy life. Just look at the tabloids and gossip magazines. (Actually, you’ll be better off if you don’t look at those magazines. I just use that as an example to support my point.)
4. Dishonesty – The best way to ruin your relationships with most people is to lie to them or steal from them. Being dishonest in any degree is hard to live with. You must always be watching over your shoulder to see if someone is going to catch you in your dishonesty. Eventually, truth always comes out.
5. Debt – Debt is a prison master who never sleeps, never takes vacation or time off. As long as you have an outstanding debt, you will have something hanging over your head.
On the other hand, here are 5 things that bring happiness:
1. A relationship with God – prayer and worship are common among the most happiest people in the world. Knowing who you are, why you are here, and where you go after this life brings peace and comfort. Being able to say, “I do this…”, or “I do not do that because God says,” allows for a moral compass on which important decisions are based. Of the happiest people in the world, surveys have said they are Jews, Catholics and Mormons that go to church.
2. Living the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule – What simple rules for happiness. You don’t even need to think about them once you understand them. You just need to commit to live them. And, the Golden Rule is quite simple, but often misunderstood. Too many people thinks it means “Treat others how they treat you.” But, that is not what it says, it says, “Do unto others as you would have others do to you.” That means, if you want to be treated with love and kindness and respect, treat others that same way.
3. Hard Work – Hard work brings self-esteem. It’s hard to feel bad about a day when you’ve worked really hard. That sense of accomplishment is worth a lot.
4. Serve Others – When you serve others, you feel happier about yourself. You seem to forget your problems when you serve those who are less fortunate than you. It’s easy to do something nice for someone with power, fame or money, but it often doesn’t satisfy. When you do something that is for someone less fortunate than you, it often comes with gratitude and thanks.
5. Make Friends – Make friends with everyone you meet. Genuinely learn to care about others. Learn to say, ‘I love you,’ and understand what you are saying when you say it. Value differences, and do not join cliques. Call on your friends when you need help, and respond to their requests when they need help. Be compassionate when they stumble or fall.
Someone once said it takes one time to break a habit, and three times to form a new habit. So, start with the list of 5 items that make people unhappy and break those habits, then start on the list of 5 things that bring happiness. Or better yet, do them concurrently.