I am currently reading a great book Bringing Out the Best in People by author and psychotherapist Alan Loy McGinnis.  Although I have heard happiness defined in this manner before, the specific way that McGinnis puts it in this book is almost perfect to me.

“But leisure has little to do with one’s happiness.  To the contrary, I’ve found that the happiest people have found some cause and they stride through life propelled by a commitment.”

I think that many people don’t really take time to define what happiness means to them and instead associate happiness simply with leisure or another platitude. People also seem to associate happiness with other feelings, typically derived from outside influences. This could be feelings such as security, love or friendship.

I find the McGinnis definition to be true for me in the most simple way. The example that I use that makes sense to me is this. Although I enjoying sleeping in and the leisure of it. Sleeping into does not necessarily make me happy. If I could sleep in every day but never accomplished anything I would definitely not be happy.

Although I would like to sleep in, I get up early if need be and work long hours because I have a mission that I am on. This is what makes me happy. While some amount of leisure is necessary in life, because if you don’t rest you will become dull and burn out, leisure alone will not make you happy.

I challenge anyone who would define happiness in any other way than above to think hard about it within the context.  Some may say truthfully that having a strong family brings happiness.  I would posit that this is true and perhaps the cause for that person is the commitment to having a strong family.

The cause does not have to be some large global movement, however the commitment to a strong family is not a small cause by comparison.  This is because by working on self and building a strong family, the potential ripple effect into the community and beyond can be enormous.

What is your cause?  Do you agree with this definition of happiness?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below…