A journey to a happier and fulfilling life

Happiness is fascinating and is considered the ultimate desire in life by many. I have been doing extensive research on this complex topic, or perhaps ‘me-search.’ I have realized that unless I can write it, share it and teach it, I have not truly learned it.

Arthur Brooks, a renowned social scientist, author and Harvard Business School professor, recently published “Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier,” which he co-authored with Oprah Winfrey. He has made it his life mission to help others achieve happiness. His research concluded there are four essential factors to attain it: faith, family, friends and work (earning success and service to others). These key pillars are the proven foundation for a happier and fulfilling life. He and other experts came up with three important categories to happiness: enjoying the simple moments, living with a sense of meaning and obtaining satisfaction. Like Socrates’ wisdom — being happy is more about being satisfied with less than desiring more.

Ultimately, happiness is about meaningful relationships and love. A fulfilling life is about experiences with people that we like and love. Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, a priest and Noble Peace Prize nominee I have had the opportunity to know, shared in a letter to me that, “the secret to happiness is to love and the essence of love is to serve.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest Catholic theologians and philosopher, wrote Summa Theologica, (the false idols) of money, power, pleasure and fame. St. Augustine shared, “every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Brooks’ research identified three major areas where money can help buy happiness: 1. Buying time to do the things you enjoy and delegating to others the things you don’t 2. Experiences with people we like and love 3. Philanthropy by giving gifts to others — time, talents or treasure.

An 85-year-old Harvard study of over 8,500 people showed that building and nurturing good relationships can significantly impact our overall health and well-being for a satisfied and happy life. Warren Buffett said your only measure of success should be that the number of “people you want to have love you actually do love you.”

In the words of Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This powerful statement reminds us that happiness is not necessarily found in grand gestures but in the everyday acts of kindness, love and service that we extend to others. Research has shown that when people are sad, and they shift how they can help others and acknowledge what they are grateful for, their happiness grows. I have learned that I can get almost anything in life I want if I help others get what they want. I call this the “Law of Reciprocity.”

Happiness is a journey, not a destination; emphasizing the need to attract happiness rather than seeking it. An essential lesson in happiness lies in appreciating the present and managing our desires. The secret to satisfaction is not accumulating more but learning to want less. By embracing the five simple rules for happiness (free your heart from hatred, liberate your mind from worries, live simply, give more and expect less), we unlock the door to a more meaningful life. A journey of learning the essential aspects will assist in becoming happier. ●

Umberto P. Fedeli is President & CEO of The Fedeli Group

Umberto P. Fedeli

President and CEO
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