3 Keys of Genuine Joy – Dr. Matt Lyon Charlotte NC
I was recently looking at some really interesting research on what it is that people really, really want. Across the world, across cultures, across demographics, across socio-economic lines people pretty much want the same thing. They may say it in different ways, or it may be couched in cultural nuance yet the essence of our great yearning is pretty universal. People want to be happy, they want to feel positive emotion, and they want to feel a genuine connection to others.
Right now, there is much great writing on the subject of authentic happiness and positive psychology. Its actually really exciting because we are beginning to see solid science on what it truly means to be “happy” and what it takes to cultivate that state. I use that word “cultivate” very intentionally here. Just like a garden, the art of happiness is really the art of cultivating a happy life of meaning, physical well being, energetic clarity, connection, challenge, community, authenticity, bravery, and kindness. I’d really encourage you to learn more about this. Some awesome books to check out are: The Happiness Hypothesis, Happier, Authentic Happiness, and Happy for No Reason (check Amazon for these).
For now, I want to break down a remarkably simple, yet super powerful equation for happiness. It goes something like this. N + C + C = AHMs. Novelty (something new) + a Challenge + Connected Community = Authentically Happy Moments.
Just close your eyes for a second after you read the next few sentences and lets play with this. Think of the happiest moment(s) of your life? The moments when you felt most alive, most energetic, and most joyful? Where where you? What were you doing? Who were you with? Go with that. Come back when you are done!
So, what did you discover? 99% of the time, our most Authentically happy moments will be doing or experiencing something totally new. There is a powerful element of novelty in our happiness moments. One of my mentors, Donny Epstein, has said that hallmark of enlightenment is not a fixed state, but rather on ongoing experience that everything is brand new. Its seeing the novelty of every moment. I love that.
Authentically Happy Moments will also have a challenge associated with them. There is some amazing great energy that bursts from deep within when we meet a challenge just a step beyond what our capacity is and we meet it with bravery, tenacity, grit, and optimism. It draws forth some mystical substance of happiness. We may not feel that when we are in the middle of it, but I would bet that your happiest memory had some challenge to it. A first marathon. A mom delivering her first baby. Starting a business and pouring you heart into at and watching it succeed. Graduating from school. Losing weight.
These moments of great happiness will also have one ultra-important component: other people. In your happiest moments, you will likely be with close friends, families, teachers, mentors, guides. When we are in community, when we are connected to others, it unleashes some great inner fortitude, some radiant diamond of joy. There is a great quality of heart that explodes and expands when we are with those that love us the most.
So, when we put them together – something new + a solid challenge + community/relationships we get more and more Authentically Happy Moments. And the more of these “AHMs” that we experience, the more we grow into the very “happy” people that we seek to be. Our lives are stacked more and more with that which gives life, deepens meaning, and produces and inner state of feeling radically alive. We begin to feel that we are simply part of the flow of Life itself, a flow that goes on forever and ever. There is more trust, more peace, more connection, more compassion, a more solid knowledge of who we are and what we are here for, and way more abundance.
*ALL* of my happiest moments were doing something new (or at least in a very new way or in a new environment – they all had novelty as a defining characteristic). *ALL* of my happiest moments were in some way challenging me, pushing me to a new level, bringing out something new from within me. *ALL*, without exception, of these AHMs of mine were with my friends, my wife, or community in some shape or form. I have had magical, mystical moments alone, yet it was always in coming back to community and living those new moments in new and challenging ways that has yielded the greatest experiences of happiness.
The more we do this, just like exercise, the more we literally strengthen ourselves into joy. We then become great lights in our community. Truly, it takes one person in a hundred who is living an authentically happy life to change the other 99 people. You may not know you are doing it, nor do you need to understand the mechanics of it. Just think of a light bulb – it is really that tiny filament that when charged with energy becomes light for an entire room. More AHMs = a brighter and brighter filament.