How many time have I been asked this question? Too many. Who hasn't.
But how many times have we taken the time to ponder on our response and take the time to reflect and think, about what is making you happy at that exact moment? The answer for me was never. Most of the times my answers were extremely superficial and unconscious. So, when I was asked to write down my actions for one whole week, I was given the opportunity to go back and reflect on what I based my day to day actions and uncover the source of my genuine happiness. For me happiness is giving. Whether it is doing community and service or taking the time to help a friend who is hurting or small gestures that make people who are significant in my life feel appreciated. I feel happy when I know that I am making a difference in someone's life, or even day.
Our happiness is born from many different outlets. Most people think that material things are bound to make us happier. Though I believe that it may contribute to our day to day happiness, it's the experiences, the relationships that bring more. Like professor Daniel Gilbert from Harvard University once said: " Having healthy relationships makes you happier." Looking back at what I did over that week made me realize that when I found value in an individual who is part of my life, I strive to maintain a very healthy relationship with them. Most of the times, I do this by giving back, a small note, a phone call or by being there in a time of need. That's what makes me happy.
But why do I find myself smiling when I give back to someone who I don't know? For the past six years, I have maintained a recycling project that sells recycled paper and sells it for money which is used for orphan kids. I was 11 when it all started, and my soul purpose was to give back to those kids who didn't have a plate of food in front of them every day. I have gone and visited the orphanage hundreds of times, but there are over 34 in Peru. And my projects accomplishments are spread over the country. So why did I feel the need to fight with the municipality, and beg my neighbors to recycle and go on tv being the most introverted person on earth? Becuase like the "Happy documentary" said, going out of your way to creating an impact in someone's life releases as much dopamine as a hardcore drug". I completely agree. There is no feeling or greater satisfaction than knowing that all of the time and efforts you have given in to something will have an impact on the life of someone who is suffering.
Spending time doing something you dislike can seem like something particularly foolish when described as someone's happiness. To me, it isn't. Part of giving back to me is also showing physical representations of appreciation. Remembering someone's birthday and getting them a gift or a cake, or bringing chocolates to a friend of mine who is going through a rough time makes me happy. For me, it's usually baking. I hate baking, but I do it because I know my friends like what I cook. So for me, there is nothing more significant than preparing for a person and seeing their smile when they receive and enjoy something made by me. Those who are close to me know this, which makes them that much more appreciative of what I give them. If someone has done something to me, worth celebrating, baking seems like a small sacrifice to give back in their favor. Like it was said in the "Happy documentary," doing things we don't like for someone and seeing the positive impact creates genuine happiness, because we are programming our brains to understand that the sacrifice pays off, in the long run.
Happiness is born from the most trivial of the day to day events and sometimes from people we least expect. Realizing that giving back is such an important factor to my happiness, that it makes me contemplate a future career that makes a difference in someone's life that much more. I know that whatever I do further in life, I want to make sure that I am not only doing it for myself, but to make a difference, for someone close to me, or to someone out there who probably I will never meet.
I found the recipe to my happiness, what's yours?