“Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles, so one heart illuminates another heart and can illuminate thousands of other hearts” – Leo Tolstoy
We can infer from Leo’s words that when cultivated and nurtured over time, happiness has the capacity to reproduce itself in the lives it contacts.
Happiness is a universally desired state of being that is attainable by everyone at any point in time in any place. However, while it is attainable to everyone, this state continually eludes most of us. This elusive trait of happiness stems from our distorted perception of its definition, attainability and accessibility.
Like other forms of success, attaining happiness requires intentional effort on our part as it doesn’t just pour down like rain. While it springs up like a fount on days when the universe seems to cuddle up to our desires – the ‘oh-so-special’ days. We must dig our well and continually fetch from it to maintain a sustainable frame of mind built around happiness.
Cultivating and nurturing happiness begins with making the effort to define what it truly means to us as individuals. While it is a universally desired state of being, happiness is derived from distinct experiences for individuals.
Hence prior to taking our journey to happiness, we all need to take to heart the words of Socrates as inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollos at Delphi which reads ‘know thyself’ – knowing what drives you, makes you tick and among other things, knowing what the absence of joy means to you.
Acquiring this knowledge requires that we take an audit of how past experiences have influenced our state joy, irrespective of how trivial this might have been. Places visited, conversations held, interactions with certain individuals, recalling some memories, time spent with a person who bears some attitudinal traits around a time of the day, and so on.
Upon noting these experiences, even if it requires that we keep a journal, patterns of causes and effects will begin to emerge, and this new found insight will equip us with the tools needed to dig our wells of joy as well as enlighten us on how to fetch from it on days when the sun chooses to hide behind the clouds.
Richard Koch, author of ‘The 80/20 Principle’, clearly captions the world’s need for our individual cultivation of happiness in these words:
“Make the choice that you want to be happy. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to other people too. Unless you are happy, you will make your partner and anyone else with prolonged exposure to you less happy. Therefore, you have a positive duty to be happy.”