May and June inspiration is dedicated to the pursuit of Happiness. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at the key pillars that help to cultivate and sustain inner Happiness.
Happiness, and our hearts are inextricably corded. However, when heart connection is lost, Happiness struggles to find a voice and soon becomes embroiled in the hunger of external expectations and the ensuing turmoil they often stir. Conversely, the benefits are immense when we allow our lives to become more heart centred. In the science of Happiness, three factors profoundly influence our well-being; our genetic makeup (inherited), our environment (discordant v harmonious) and the most significant portion attributed to life skills (random acts of kindness, collective activities, relationships).
For thousands of years, we've discussed and dreamed and pursued Happiness; in fact, Aristotle was so fascinated by the idea of human Happiness he believed it was far more critical to well-being than status or career; for him, Happiness enriched the value of the latter. He said, "Happiness was the meaning and purpose of life, the aim and end of human existence." However, opening or expressing your heart doesn't reside exclusively in romantic love; it's just one aspect.
True friendship is like a ripening fruit, Human relationships are crucial to our well-being. Aristotle pioneered the study of well-being and categorised friendship into three expressions, Utility ( you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours). Pleasure (the joy of being around each other) and Virtue (that of unconditional exchange, the 4am phone call).
To illustrate further, there's the collective Happiness of activities shared with a friend or a group of friends; we don't need many friends, just one or two meaningful relationships; this can even be with a close family member. But unfortunately, making friends is not always easy, and loneliness is rising worldwide; this makes the need for meaningful connection vital. Did you know we actually have a Minister for Loneliness in the UK?
Scientists are now discovering that human relationships are crucial to our well-being, not just psychologically but physically and can have a potent effect on our cardiovascular systems. Maintaining connection, whether through shared activities that create quality time together or through active listening, that is the ability to focus and give someone your full and undivided attention, makes them feel valued and heard by bouncing what they have said back to them without criticism. Last is self-disclosure (expressing our hearts and exploring our emotional world). Either way, whether you reach out to someone or share your heart unconditionally, it's a win-win, isn't it ?
Could you put any of the above into practice today?
- Call up an old friend.
- Organise a light-hearted shared activity.
- Volunteer to help out at a food bank, a shelter, or just to listen to someone who is alone and needs to be heard.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin.