Finding Happiness Through the Back Door - Back Door to Happiness

Written by Paul Wolf

Back Door to Happinessfinding happiness

As Prager sees it this focus has to do with five distinct but related values. We arrive at happiness through a pursuit of these values. In other words, we don't strut up to happiness and make demands, but rather sneak up on it through the backdoor.

More on happiness:
Caring for your parents
Get rich, get dates, get happy.
Happiness makes your sex life stronger.
Take pleasure in today.
Are you a candidate for burnout?

The five values are:

1. Passionate and meaningful pursuits: This track to happiness embraces anything from playing baseball to caring for the needy.

2. Depth: You deepen through struggle. Through struggle, potential happiness grows.

3. Wisdom: Prager takes care to distinguish wisdom from the mere accumulation of facts.

4. Clarity: You become clearer when you gain understanding of yourself and your purpose in life. This is a process of elimination.

5. Goodness: The pursuit of happiness must include a moral or ethical component, or it's impossible to pursue a greater purpose in life.

Matt Friday, a Monterey, Calif., civil-rights activist, agrees. He has found that when you pursue each one of these points willingly, you get more back.

Friday, a publishing professional who spends six to 12 unpaid hours a week on community causes, has been recognized by the California Assembly for helping to revive Earth Day. He also founded a grassroots organization that responds to hate crimes, and is active with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Life deepens the more you become connected. What comes from connection is a feeling of satisfaction, which may not always be the same as happiness," explains Friday. "It's fun to go to the movies or drink champagne with people, but those things alone won't make you stretch and grow and build connections."

In other words, a superficial life may, at most, give you superficial happiness, like the feeling that floats on the backs of social butterflies.

Friday adds that you have to take the bad with the good, some pain with the pleasure. "Sometimes I hate the result, like when a politician votes against what we are fighting for. But I learn something, and that wisdom goes back into the strategy. A goal of mine is to grow in wisdom."

You don't have to commit your life to community service or playing the piano to find happiness. There are backdoors to happiness in every life. A parent may give up momentary pleasures to spend time helping a child, for example. Parents may view this as their responsibility, and only in hindsight realize the happiness that such decisions brought.

For most of us who pursue the front door with too much effort, those unanticipated moments of happiness come as a refreshing surprise. The more you are aware of what is going on, the more you can focus on the less direct paths to happiness. If the front door always disappoints, remember the back door is always open.

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• Time, Happiness Go Hand in Hand

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