Donna Doyon
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  • Ep139: What is Authentic Happiness?

You say you only want to be happy. Sounds like a good goal, but do you know what it means? Do you know how to achieve it? Will you recognize it when you have it? This week I share my thoughts on "authentic happiness."

Read the Transcript

Note: This is a computer-generated transcript. That means it's pretty good, but not perfect. If you read something weird or confusing, first laugh, then use the time stamp to hop into the podcast to find out what I REALLY said. 🙂

[00:00:02.270]

Welcome to another episode of Finding My Way, a podcast dedicated to sharing the scattered thoughts and muddles musings of this 50 something year old woman. Each week, I'll share my experiences, challenges, doubts and fears as well as the lessons I've learned that keep me moving forward toward my dreams. And yes, this is the podcast that was formally known as Reflections of a Recovering Ugly Duckling. This is episode 139, and I'm your host, Donna Doyon. I was so proud of myself this morning.

[00:00:39.100]

I remembered I remembered to capture the scathingly, brilliant podcast topic that appeared almost fully formed in my mind this morning. Have you ever woken up from a good night's sleep and you have this idea, this lingering dream or something and you think, oh, I'll remember that. And then five minutes later, you remember that there was something you wanted to remember, but it's gone. Well, this morning it was just about 05:30 a.m. My cat was already inviting me to get up and give her breakfast.

[00:01:11.130]

So I got out of bed. I went downstairs, I fed the cats. I came back upstairs, grabbed my rocket book notebook from my desk, and I headed into the bathroom. And, yes, too much information here. But while I was taking care of business, I was able to do a brain dump on today's episode.

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So I'm really excited about this. I love this topic. It's something that has been coming up recently in conversations in podcasts I've been listening to, and so hopefully you'll enjoy it as well. The topic is happiness. What is it?

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What does it mean to be truly authentically? Happy? Are you happy? So many times I hear people say, oh, all I want out of life is to be happy. And I really don't know what that means.

[00:01:57.680]

Because is happiness of destination. Is it a place that we have to get to or can we already be there? And if you've listened to me for a while, I think you know, my answer is we can be happy today here in this moment, no matter what's going on in our life, we all have the choice to be happy. So if that's how you think, if you think all I want is to be happy in life, can you tell me what that means? How will you know if you achieve it?

[00:02:27.350]

How will you know that you're experiencing it? I really would like to understand. The other day I was watching a video about positive psychology, and the topic was happiness. See, all of these synchronicities about happiness is podcast episode was destined to happen. So I was watching this video and I learned about a researcher named Barbara Fredrickson, and she theorized.

[00:02:52.250]

She did some research. I didn't follow all of it, but she theorized did some research that people who have a three to one positive to negative events ratio in their lives, those people are considered to be happy. And I don't know who's making the determination that they're happy if it's a self determination by the people that were test subjects. So I don't understand don't know the details of her research, but when I hear a three to one ratio type of thing, it always reminds me of the old commercials for toothpaste when they say four out of five dentists recommend crest toothpaste.

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Well, what are they comparing Crest against?

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Are they comparing it against just baking soda? A toothbrush with nothing on it, charcoal, maybe Colgate toothpaste. I don't know what those dentists are recommending crest over. And so I always kind of have that caution. It's one of my challenges with research, because until you really dig and find out what's being compared, what's being said, I have a hard time taking it just at face value.

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But I do love and appreciate the concept three to one ratio of positive to negative events. And I would even expand that to say positive to negative thoughts. So if for every one negative event or thought that you have something bad happen, something tragic could be something in the world, something in your life, something in your family. But for every negative event that happens, if there are three or more positive events, then yeah, life is pretty good for you. Consider yourself happy.

[00:04:33.340]

It's not something you have to go searching for. It's not something that has to happen in the future. It can be in the here and the now. Now, if you look at your life and you look at your thoughts and you start thinking, no life socks. Okay, that's a negative thought.

[00:04:49.530]

Probably not very happy, but this is a habit. The way you think is a habit, and you can train yourself to start looking for the brighter side of things, the positive side of things. So here's a tip. If you tend to focus more on the negative things, start intentionally looking for the positive in your life. And yes, hold your horses, people.

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I am talking about gratitude. Some people think that it's such an overrated practice and they go, Ho gratitude Bah humbug. I think the only people who truly don't appreciate the value of practicing gratitude are those who have never given it a good try. So if you are one of those skeptics, ask yourself, honestly, have you given it a try? Being grateful doesn't mean that you have to be all sappy and sentimental and emotional about it.

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These can be just simple thoughts about what's good about yourself, what's good in your life, and hear the warning. If you catch yourself adding butt to your statement, you're falling into the trap of negativity and diminishing the value of what was said before. And I did an episode about Does my butt look Big? And I'll put a link to that in the show notes. I don't remember what episode it was, so you can find the show notes for this episode at Donna.

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Doyon. Com. One, three, nine and if you find yourself adding butt to any positive statement, listen to that episode. So here's an example of that. I am so grateful that my job is so close to my home.

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That is a statement of gratitude. It's simple. It's not emotional. It's a statement of fact. You are grateful that your job is so close to your home for whatever reasons and probably many reasons.

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You diminish the power of that when you say I am so grateful that my job is so close to my home. But I sure hate my boss. You have completely wiped out the gratitude because now you're focusing on the boss that you hate. So when you catch yourself adding that phrase, but go, listen to that other podcast episode, start catching yourself. Have a complete sentence that ends just before the butt.

[00:07:10.720]

I think one of the challenges that we have as a society with positive psychology with thinking that everyone has to be happy all the time is we discount the value of the other emotions. And apparently Dr. Frederickson revised her theory of this happiness ratio at some point because she discovered that there's a cap to how many positive events versus negative events you need to still be classified as happy or consider yourself happy. And when I heard that, it reminded me about the studies that show there is a cap on the income that people need to earn in order to feel pretty happy.

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So that limit is around $75,000 a year.

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And when people earn that, they're pretty happy in their day to day situations, they don't really have money concerns. But then they also studied or realize that at around 95 to a hundred thousand dollars a year, this is the ideal amount for overall life happiness. And I'm assuming that that means that you can do the extra things you want to do, whether it's traveling or hiring someone to clean your house or getting the new car without taking on a lot of debt. It's that extra buffer that gives you those extra things.

[00:08:31.320]

So Dr. Frederickson established a similar type of cap in the video I watched. It didn't state what that ratio cap was, but if three to one is good, don't go getting all worried in frantic thinking. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I only have three positive and one negative.

[00:08:51.490]

And is that good enough? Will I be happy? Don't start worrying about the numbers, because what she was saying is that if you have ten positive things to every negative thing, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're happier. And that comes back to what is your definition of happiness of authentic happiness. So while you think about what it means to be authentically happy, I'm going to drone on in your ear for a few more minutes and share my answer.

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For me, authentic happiness means that I'm comfortable in content with who I am and what I'm doing in this moment. I feel like I'm a very happy person. That doesn't mean that life always goes my way. It doesn't mean that I don't experience frustration, fears, doubts, anger. It just means that the overall positive emotions of love, joy, excitement, anticipation, those outweigh the negative ones.

[00:09:49.930]

So I feel really good about the choices I've made and the choices that I'm making. And each week I'm sharing something that I'm going through on this podcast. I really like that. I look at my past as part of my journey to where I am today. I really resist the urge to place blame or shame upon myself or others for the choices that have been made, whether they're my choices or someone else's.

[00:10:14.760]

And I look to the future as a place and a time of possibilities. And I'm trying to do that without feeling pressure, that I have to do something. This has been a very recent discovery for me, and I know that I have to do something, but I'm letting myself do it in my own time, my own way, at my own pace, and that feels very comfortable and very freeing. So for me, authentic happiness is knowing and feeling that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing, not worrying about what happened in the past, not worrying about what may happen in the future, but truly learning to live day by day, moment by moment.

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It's not always easy, but it's glorious when I feel so in tuned to the moment.

[00:11:05.980]

As I mentioned at the beginning, this topic of happiness has come up in several conversations with people, co workers and friends. And last night I was talking with my friend Annie, and we touched on the topic of happiness, and I mentioned that for me, I do feel like I'm a very happy person. But I said that my typical emotional state feels more like being just on the positive side of neutral. And this is where I feel content. And I guess my definition of happiness is feeling content.

[00:11:38.090]

I told her that to me, it's like our body parts. You don't notice your arms, your legs, your fingers, your breath or your head. Unless you're feeling some discomfort, you bang your head and suddenly you realize, oh, my gosh, I have a head there early, and I'll go out hiking and we get home, and our legs are a little tight, a little sore. And suddenly it's like, wow, I have legs, but our body parts, they're just part of who we are, and we're not aware of them until we're aware of them.

[00:12:05.600]

And for me, that's how happiness is.


[00:12:07.950]

That's what contentment is. And I'm not really aware of my emotional state because it's neutral and because it's neutral. It's not draining me. It's not giving me energy. It's not sapping energy from me.

[00:12:22.000]

Now, I think of the positive emotions of excitement, joy, laughter, pride. I mean, they are so amazing to experience, but I feel like these feelings, they're not meant to be long lasting. They're supposed to be fleeting. Likewise, the negative feelings are what we consider negative feelings of frustration overwhelm disappointment or anger. Those should also be fleeting when we hold on to them, we're doing ourselves our emotional state in our bodies a disservice because we hold on to those tensions within our bodies, within our hearts, within our spirits.

[00:12:58.920]

But, you know, just kind of hanging out on the positive side in neutral. It allows me to experience the emotions that result from situations and experiences that have happened relationships, and I can experience them. I can think of what triggered that, and I can do some growth and identify what's going on. What am I thinking in that moment that's causing me to feel those feelings, and then I can take an action to either start to change that because I'm now aware or I can continue on without making a change.

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The choice is always mine.


[00:13:37.560]

But I do believe that these higher and lower emotional energies are meant to be fleeting. We're not meant to hold on to these super high all the time, nor are we supposed to hold on to the super lows all the time, right around neutral. I like chilling around the positive side of neutral. It's comfortable, and it is a place where I feel happiness. Another thing that came out of these various conversations was the opinion that happiness is not an end result.

[00:14:12.050]

It's the journey. So if you think all I want is to be happy, but yet you currently already experience the three positive to every negative event or thought. Yet you don't feel like you're happy. So again, I go back to that question of how do you define happiness? What does happiness mean to you?

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What does it look like? How will you know when you've attained it? I want to suggest that when you say all I want is to be happy, that's suggesting lack it's suggesting that what you have right now isn't good enough and you still want more. Now that's okay. Wanting more.

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There is nothing wrong with wanting more. I want more. There are so many things I want more of more. There's nothing wrong with wanting more. And it's not disrespecting yourself thinking, oh, I should be more grateful going back to gratitude there.

[00:15:07.020]

But allow yourself to say I can be happy in the moment and still want more. Perhaps all you need is just a slight tweak to your perspective. Perhaps if you started looking at happiness as being the result of the journey and not the end result of that journey, you'll start to really feel more happy in the moment. You see, I believe that whatever you're focusing your time and energy on, if you can enjoy the process of what you're doing, of what you're learning, then you will consider the overall experience a positive one.

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Yes, there will be moments or sometimes hours or days or weeks of frustration, fear, discomfort, pain.

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But when you overcome those things and you get beyond them, you can look back and you can smile and you can say, yeah, I got this. And I can't believe I figured that out. I am so amazing. So there will be moments of negativity along your journey. Earl and I when we're hiking, there are some trails that are so soft and padded with pine needles, and it's like a blissful place for our feet to walk.

[00:16:22.800]

There are other sections that are Rocky. They've got rounded rocks and jagged rocks, and you're bouncing from rock to rock, trying not to slip, working on your balance and other sections that are just these shoe sucking mud pits, and you just kind of slog through them and hope you don't lose a shoe in there. But then you come out on the other side, whether it's the mud pit, whether it's the rocks or whether it's that blissful padded pine needle heaven. And you look back and you say, wow, I got through that experience.

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And by the time we've reached the summit, even though we vaguely remember the discomfort of those mud pits and those Rocky sections, they were small portions of this amazing journey we took.

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And when negative things happen in your life, negative events, negative thoughts. When you just allow yourself to experience them, to enjoy the roller coaster ride of those emotions, get yourself back to neutral, hopefully on the positive side of it, and settle back into that place where you are happy, where you are content. And finally, the thought I want to share with you today is something else that was mentioned in that positive psychology video that I watched, and it was the statement. It was kind of their definition of what happiness is.

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And they said, Happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.

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So a few key words I want to focus on in that definition. First of all, pleasure, pleasure feels good. But sometimes we have to be careful. We give too much credit to fleeting, false pleasures. These could be things like overeating or drugs or alcohol, getting someone to do things your way, kind of being a control freak, the things that make you feel good in the moment, but also weigh you down with excess baggage so that after that momentary pleasure, you start thinking, oh, I shouldn't have done that.

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Oh, I overdid it. Nope. Not good. Not liking myself too much right now. If you are doing things that in the moment feel good, but then afterwards, you feel a little bit of shame.

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You blame yourself. Those are not real pleasures. You can learn to overcome those feelings of that being the pleasure that you need. But that's a different topic, maybe for another podcast episode. So the feeling of pleasure, the pleasure that creates happiness is more like an integrity based pleasure.

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It's something that you do, something you overcome, something you enjoy that's aligned with who you want to be and who you want to be. Maybe who you currently are. I don't want to suggest that you can't be in an amazing spot right now. I feel like I am, but I feel like tomorrow's going to be even better, and that's what keeps me going. It keeps me giddy it's positively.

[00:19:25.550]

Oh, my gosh. It's so exciting knowing that tomorrow is going to be an even better day than today. That's my choice. That's what I think. And that's the reality I will experience.

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You can have that same thought and experience the same thrill of every day being better than the one that was before. And I create those thoughts from my happy little spot just a little bit on the positive side of neutral. So let's revisit that definition that was given again. So happiness is the overall experience of pleasure and meaning. Let's focus on the word meaning.

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Meaning is when we're doing things for a reason. There's a purpose for those of you that have listened to my podcast for a while. Actually, more recently, I've started calling these our whatever ventures. These are our heart calling. This is our purpose for being here.

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And when we are actively pursuing those and not pursuing is in chasing something, but actively moving forward towards achieving them, we will light up inside. This is where happiness grows from. It is the meaning. It's in the relationships that we have. It's staying in integrity with ourselves.

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Now, this reminds me of the people, the wealthy people, the famous people who they're miserable. They don't have that meaning in their life. They have a lot of stuff. They have a lot of money. They have freedom to do whatever they want when they want to do it.

[00:21:02.720]

But they haven't found something that lights them up inside. And there is that spark that we each have our purpose. And when we are actively walking the path of our purpose, that's when we can experience happiness, when we're not, when we're ignoring it, that's going to bring in that negative energy. It's going to hold us back. We're going to be resisting it.

[00:21:26.980]

So allowing yourself to acknowledge that there's some spark in you that wants to grow brighter and brighter. That's going to give you the freedom to start walking that path. And as someone who has walked on and off my path over the decades, being on my path, it's such a better place to be. Oh, it's so great to be on my path. I still don't know exactly where it's going, but I am thoroughly enjoying slogging through these muddy pits and bouncing and balancing on these crazy sharp and rounded rocks.

[00:22:01.640]

And I've even learned to appreciate fording the Rivers with water up to my knees, walking on slippery rocks, hoping that I don't fall in, crash my head on a Boulder and drift downstream. I am loving the process. I'm loving this journey when there is meaning to what you are doing. I have no words for that. It is just so powerful.

[00:22:25.830]

It is so amazing. So once again, I want to revisit their definition of happiness. The overall experience of pleasure and meaning. The final word I want to focus on is overall. This is that reminder.

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It will not be all rainbows and unicorns, but it also won't be all spiders and snakes. I don't like spiders and snakes. Instead, it's going to be a mix. And with the power of your thoughts, you can make sure that the mix is at least a three to one ratio in your favor of positivity so that you can experience the happiness that you want to feel in your life. You can feel it today.

[00:23:12.750]

You can feel it in this moment. It's not something you have to want. It's something you can be. I believe that happiness is an imperfect state of being. It's a choice you make with your thoughts, and it's the overall experience of pleasure and meaning.

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I believe happiness. Authentic happiness is a calm, gentle state of being on the emotional scale. It's on the positive side of neutral. I think it's a place where self acceptance, self love and self belief reside.

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If you enjoy listening to this podcast and you're ready to overcome your own doubts and fears so that you can step out of your current limiting roles and responsibilities and into your whatever venture potential you have to check out Walk With Me. It's additional guidance on finding your way to the delightfully imperfect life of your dreams. Check it out at Donna. Doyon. Com walk.

[00:24:16.960]

I'd love to have you walk with me. The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson.


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Show Notes:

If you tend to turn positive thoughts/events into negative ones by adding a "but..." to the goody-goodness, check out "Episode 139: Does My Butt Look Big?"


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The music for this podcast is Drifting Upstream by Hyson. The music was slightly remixed and fit to needed duration.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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