If someone asks you “Are you happy?” how would you respond? Would you just say, “Yes” or would you add some caveats like “Yes… fairly (or mostly, or sort of, or even absolutely)”?
I was asked this very question recently and just to share with you my immediate response, which was “Yes I am”, I also want to position with you what I think is a problem in the question.
The problem is that the question is without context, and when there is no context, there is little or no meaning.
My personal (work in progress) definition of happiness is “a combination of a range of mainly positive emotions (although some negative emotions may also be in play) you feel in any given context, be it a moment in time, a specific experience or aspect of your life, or when describing how you think you feel about your overall life”.
Now stay with me here – I’m not trying to get all ‘academic’ on you.
The reason I wanted to share this with you in this post is because there are a lot of times in our daily lives when we might be asked certain things (either by ourselves in thought and reflection, or by others in casual or even business conversations) that have little or no context.
Context is like a narrowing of a lens to give you more clear and specific focus on a particular situation.
So rather than asking are you happy, it is more appropriate to ask it in a way that provides you with more context and therefore allow you to give more considered and meaningful answers.
Throughout the Intentionomics Blueprint of 9 Inescapable Truths (which you can download your own personal workbook by clicking here), outlines a range of questions and rating scales to give you more context and to help you identify which areas specifically about your personal and/or business life, your truth about you, is saying are happy, flourishing and prosperous.
Just to add some complexity here, you’re more than likely thinking “Why bother?” And one of the reasons you might be thinking that is research from 916 surveys of 1.1 million people covering 45 nations (Myers, 2011) suggests that most of the world rates themselves as being fairly happy anyway (more than 90% rate their satisfaction with life as above 5 on a 10 point scale)… so if we’re already mostly happy, why bother doing all the research and encouraging the self-reflection?
Just so you’re clear, what I’m not saying is that there’s no value in these types of surveys or findings. On the contrary, paraphrasing one of the leading authorities in positive psychology Ed Diener, while the science may not be perfect, the findings are certainly in the ‘good to know’ category.
But as individuals we need to put more context into our answers and think about the more specific aspects of our personal and work lives where we may not be happy, flourishing and prosperous, and even though in the main, we might be overall fairly happy, isn’t it worth a bit of effort to see if we can’t find ways to be even more happy, flourishing and prosperous?