As I watch the news on this Black Friday, I hear endless conversation about the mobs of people heading to the store to purchase gifts for their friends and families. Besides being a bit unsettle by crowds which makes me more of a “Cyber Monday” person myself, all of this craziness has really made me think. Specifically, I wonder as everyone runs out to purchase the perfect gift for their loved ones what they hope to achieve upon presenting the gift.

Just like all those running out today, I enjoy the process as well; The “Season of Giving” for me is a special time as I love to bring smiles to the faces of those I most care about. However, I am also aware that the gifts themselves really aren’t where happiness lies.

The reality is, all of the “Things” we receive around the Holidays are great, but alone they do not mean much.

This time of year makes me think about happiness. Not the kind of happiness when you get a new object; but the kind of happiness that lasts. The kind that brings a smile to your face when you lay down at night and gives you a reason to be excited about starting a new day.

I challenge that lasting happiness will never be founded in the “stuff” that we obtain. For all of this stuff is merely a temporary distraction. This is especially true if we feel that happiness is missing in our life.

While real happiness is different to everyone. On this “Black Friday” I want to share four tidbits of what happiness is to me. Perhaps you can relate?

  1. Acceptance: Being appreciated and being cared about for the real you brings happiness. This is provided with the help of friends and loved ones, however it starts with you. You must be open and at least slightly vulnerable to who the real you is or the acceptance you get is merely a facade.
  2. Giving: It is great to receive, but most people will tell you that some of their happiest moments come from giving. This giving isn’t always tangible. Sometimes it is time or emotion or an intangible that provides the greatest form of giving. Nevertheless, doing for others is far more rewarding than doing for ourselves.
  3. Self Awareness: Taking the time to better understand yourself and what REALLY matters to you. This allows you to pursue more meaningful work, hobbies, and most importantly relationships. As a society I believe we spend far too much time pursuing what we think we should be rather than what we actually are.
  4. Love: Perhaps cliche, we as human beings live in search of love. Love in a platonic and love in a romantic form. When we are truly fulfilled in this area of our life, happiness is far more present in our lives. Lasting love is built around the above 3 items as well as many other things, however this love once found creates happiness that no riches could ever recreate.

Today I ask you to ponder these questions…

  • Is a new car, iPad, or some other nice to have thing going to really make you happy for the long haul?
  • Have you ever truly thought about what happiness means to you? If so, what?

Being happy will never be realized by having nice things. Of course nice things to accommodate real happiness makes for one heck of a great life!