THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Happiness in life


The definition of "happiness" is a state of wellbeing and contentment" or "a pleasurable or satisfying experience." Synonyms of happiness are joyfulness, blessedness, satisfaction, delight, exultation. Happiness is a desire that everyone wants to experience. The biggest obstacle to happiness is false thinking that happiness will come from how other people treat us. Another fallacy is believing that the material security we have in money or possessions will bring happiness.

Happiness or joy is the result of how loving we are to other people and how kindly I treat other people. Genuine joy results from a conscious choice to look for goodness in others.

Happiness will always result when I don't invest in criticizing others and when I only invest in being loving and positive. Happiness results when I become gently receptive to a deeper experience of God in the present moment. Happiness will pour into me when I invest in positive and kind thinking.

Happiness will become very elusive when I invest in negativity. Happiness evaporates when I immerse myself in condemning others. There is goodness in every moment of life. There is a presence of a loving God in each moment of every person's life.

When I become too busy and rushed to realize this, I run away from happiness. I lose a sense of well- being. Inner peace and joy seem far away.

Happiness is not the result of how other people treat me. Happiness comes from how well I treat other people. Investments in resentments become an investment in misery. Thinking I am getting close to another person because we can share negativity and criticism with each other about political viewpoints, religious beliefs and lifestyle becomes a false connection.

Happiness results from a gentle receptivity toward God. It comes from investments in consciously loving others.

Everyone at some time in life will suffer from some anxiety or depression. When we are anxious it is because something unresolved is starting to surface and we try to run from this by incessant activity or bodily symptoms. Depression happens when we push down our pain and emptiness and use all our energy to bury feelings which result in feeling empty and hopeless. Both are ways of avoiding what we need to feel.

Three principles will bring us into an experience of happiness or a sense of well-being and quiet joy are to 1) decide to be loving toward someone else in our presence 2) to take quiet time for prayer and meditation each day. 3) Embrace slowly and gently the present moment. These three principles of healthy living are most important when we want to be angry or critical or when we are experiencing uncomfortable feelings like a sense of loneliness and emptiness. A decision to be loving and kind in words, thoughts and actions is a powerful, healthy decision that opens our hearts and minds to positive feelings and thoughts and a positive energy then takes hold of us. A decision to be quiet and look for a presence in God in the present moment allows us to relax and embrace whatever might surface so we can heal. These three principles help us to avoid artificial means of finding happiness like alcohol, drugs, anger and resentments.

It is never what happens to us that is the problem in life. It is what we do with what happens to us which will bring us into a positive experience of happiness.

Have you ever been sitting, watching television and experienced "feeling down." This is usually preceded by the absence of quiet time with God and the absence of consciously being more loving to everyone especially to those in your presence including yourself.

In each moment of life, we can discover happiness. In each moment we can experience a sense of well- being. To experience these positive feelings, it is important that I make a decision to remain in this moment. Happiness results in how I focus and embrace this moment and not worry about the next moment or the past moment. It is so easy to live in the next moment thinking that will bring us happiness or peace. If I am bringing the garbage outside for the pickup the next morning it does me no good to worry about what I will do after I bring the garbage out. It is only focusing on my walk to the curb, staying in the moment and realizing that there is a presence of God with me in this moment. Not rushing to the next moment or worrying about the next moment or how it will be, brings me into a state of peace and well-being. This sounds so simple but it is so accurate and true. Only in the embrace of this moment and the willingness to bring love into this moment will I discover God and Love and as a result a feeling of simple and profound happiness and wellbeing.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of negativity or the trap of wanting life to be the way I think it should be. Life is simply meant to be a gentle experience of the meaning of now and a gentle experience of being loving to others. In this gentle focus I will have an experience of God and I will have an experience of the gentle power of being kind and loving.

Life is meant to be filled with God and filled with Love. Life is meant to be a gentle and reflective embrace of the present moment. When we let this happen, we discover happiness.
Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and limited licensed psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Michigan. Cavaiani is associate editor and contributing writer for Human Development Magazine. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is