Last updated: June 01. 2013 10:47AM - 138 Views
Debbie Cox
Stokes Extension Director
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

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There is a body of research known as Happiness Theory. This topic has interested mankind since the beginning of dawn. What is the one thing that brings us happiness? Well at this time of year we are filled to the brim with holiday happiness because all the key factors are built into the holidays.

There are some surprising things about this holiday season that bring us contentment. According to Gretchen Rubin, who writes a blog and has written two books on happiness, there are three factors to happiness. These factors do not require you to purchase anything, to hold a credit card or try to keep up with your neighbors’ latest electronic purchases.

The first key: SELF KNOWLEDGE

“Know thy self” is inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, a monument in ancient Greece, which still stands today. Learning from our mistakes and carrying that knowledge forward so we do not repeat events and situations that bring us misery is an important key to happiness. Talk shows and counselors offices are full of people who keep making the same mistake over and over. When we are children we quickly learn not to touch a hot stove when we get burned. As adults we forget that lesson and keep trying the same conversations with people who do not deserve our trust or keep schedules that are hectic and wear our bodies down to the point of exhaustion because we think dance classes, basketball and swim team will all hedge our bets for a child’s college scholarship. I do believe all of these activities are supportive to a child’s physical and social development but within reason that keeps everyone in the family in good physical and financial health.

You can build a happy life on the foundation of your true nature, being true to who you are in the world and carrying out that fundamental nature of you to others. So during the holidays build the type of activities that bring you and your family joy and drop some of the demands that wear you down and just don’t fit your style.


The holiday season has a lock on this key indicator of happiness. The anticipation of the church calendar to the birth of the child born in a manger is a fabulous story which fills us with hope and anticipation. Then there is the secular story of Santa Claus arriving just in time to give us a present designed and crafted just for us.

During these special days it is important to savor and be fully in the moment to accept and see the joy of anticipation on people’s faces. Turn the cell phones off for the day, keep the email on lock down and forget about Facebook for the day. Give the expression of your joy and happiness to those gathered in your living and dining rooms. Let the anticipation and happiness show.

The third key: LOVE

No surprise for any of us with this key. Strong relationships with other people are critical to a happy life. We need close, long lasting relationships for a sense of belonging and contentment.

To be able to connect deeply with people you need to build up your independent happiness. This means that no one else is the key to your happiness. You need to work at building in happiness into your life. If you are feeling stuck in a job that makes you miserable or have friends who drag you down, this New Year may be the time to work on changing those aspects of your life.

It has been a tenet of all the major religions that by serving others you will find happiness. Happy people make other people happy. Reach out to those around you who are in need. The more you reach out to others with a compliment, a smile, a free service or a possession that you no longer use, the happier you will be.

So for this holiday season may you have something to look forward to over the next couple of weeks, express your love to someone and always find something to hope for in this world.

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