Happiness is dependent upon how you go about living a happy life. There are certain things you can do to be happier, yet it’s all about the mindset with which you do these things.
“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
This post is a followup of last week’s post which covered the three pillars of living a happy life:
- The need for mastery (being good at something)
- The need for belongingness (the sense that we are loved and loving)
- The need for autonomy (that we have control over our lives)
In conjunction with these three pillars of happiness, there is a fourth determinant of happiness that has to do with the approach we take to pursue mastery, belongingness, and autonomy. In our aim of living a happy life, we can either take the scarcity route, or the abundance route.
Scarcity vs. Abundance
It’s not just whether we are progressing towards these goals that matters; how we’re working towards them also matters. Here are some examples of what that would look like in the realm of progressing towards mastery, belongingness, and autonomy.
1. There are two routes to mastery. We can either pursue superiority, which stems from a scarcity orientation, or we can pursue flow, which stems from an abundance orientation. Seeking superiority is something we’re likely to do if we think that the things we need to be happy are scarce. If things were in fact abundant, we wouldn’t be as motivated to seek superiority over others.
When we feel abundant in terms of being taken care of in life, we are more likely to pursue flow activities purely for the enjoyment of it, rather than for any extrinsic reward, like money or fame, that it might bring.
2. There are two routs to belongingness. We can either focus on the need to receive love, or give love. We become desperate for the love of others when we believe that our cup of love is not full, or not full enough. We feel incomplete and need someone else to complete us. We feel that we haven’t much to offer, which makes us either needy or avoidant. If we were to believe that we were worthy and complete enough, which reflects an abundance mindset, we would feel a much stronger desire to give love to others.
When we feel abundant in terms of connection and love, we are more likely to be kind and generous.
3. There are two routs to autonomy. We can prioritize the need for external control, or internal control. Being overly controlling of others and outcomes stems from a scarcity orientation. We may think we don’t have enough of something, whether it’s another person’s trust, respect, or love, or enough desirable outcomes in life. If we prioritized internal control, we wouldn’t feel the need to impose on others, or on situations, in order for good outcomes to occur.
When we feel abundant in terms of our ability to handle whatever life throws our way, we will feel more comfortable letting go of external control and turning inwards for our freedom.
Mindfulness Supports Living a Happy Life
The practice of mindfulness acts as a support system for living a happy life; it reinforces and helps us progress towards mastery, belongingness, and autonomy. In this way, mindfulness forms a strong foundation upon which we can experience more fulfilling moments in our day-to-day lives.
- Mindfulness fosters creativity and the generation of insights, which encourages our journey towards mastery.
- Mindfulness helps promote belongingness by making us more compassionate.
- Mindfulness promotes autonomy by enabling us to take greater internal control.
So, living a happy life is in part about weaning oneself away from the scarcity orientation and embracing an abundance orientation. The practice of generosity, for example, is about feeling abundant. The practice of trusting life is also about feeling taken care of, and abundant in all things that matter. And the practice of mindfulness can help us tie together more happy moments by supporting the three pillars of mastery, belongingness, and autonomy.
If you missed it, read last week’s post.
- How can you shift away from a scarcity mindset and lead with an abundance orientation?
- In what small ways can you serve with love rather than doubt, worry, or fear?
- Are you willing to be more mindful of your moments?
- Are you willing to (lovingly) look at why you do the things you do?
Please share your own thoughts, lessons, or experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who could use a little dose of happiness today.
Walk in the direction of your happiness.