24 Secrets of Finding Happiness—Part 1

By Mike DuBose

Happiness is defined as a state of well-being—a joyful, meaningful life of contentment with a purpose. On the other hand, it’s never guaranteed. It can be overwhelming, as some researchers have noted, and being happy takes hard work, sometimes referred to as “endless struggles.”

Where are you in this crazy, stressful world? How would you rate your joy and happiness right now? Think
about it over a few days and then, using a scale (1=miserable) and (10=extremely happy), rate your life.
Unfortunately, many are chasing the gold at the end of the beautiful rainbow frantically trying to secure
fleeting, happier lives. When John Rockefeller, one of the richest people in American history, was asked how much money would make him happy, he replied, “Just a little more!” Haven’t we all, at some point in our lives, wanted “just a little more,” never to be satisfied nor arrive at the finish line? When people ask: “How are you doing?” Isn’t our response “Great!” when actually, many times, we aren’t?

Wouldn’t it be a treasured event if we could look back on our lives from our deathbeds, erasing heartbreaks, only remembering good times, and with forgiveness, smile, and say, “Thank you God for my life!” And, at this point in my life, even though there were many failures, disappointments, and tragedies, I wouldn’t change a thing! Sadly, many people die filled with regrets, guilt, bitterness, anger, remorse, or unresolved conflict.

In 2006, I was on top of the world…or so I thought and possessed “almost” everything that anyone would want. But God had other plans for me. I’m a very curious person, wanting to learn, grow, and share knowledge. While there were many warnings my life was about to change, one came when teaching a Bible class for seniors. I would always ask thought-provoking questions like, “If you could re-live your life, what would you do differently?” The purpose was to learn from their mistakes but alarms sounded when couples said with painful regret on their faces, “We wish we had spent more time with each other and our families!” Their unhappiness was often tied to overindulging in areas like careers, making money, or running from one activity to another (with or without their children) and less on real values like enriching and enjoying “balanced” personal lives. They regretted their errors and felt it was “too late” to change.

Another major warning came while teaching a university-graduate class. Over 100 students had flown in from around the country while a filming crew was taping my presentation. Suddenly, as I began class, “I was blinded!” I’m certain that God, in my “worst-imaginable nightmare,” decided, “OK, Mike, time’s up!”

With all of these thoughts and circumstances as fuel, the realization set in that I had been driven by success to buy my happiness and live up to unrealistic expectations set earlier in my childhood. Many of us are haunted as if programmed by our past experiences that influence our adult lives. As psychologist Erikson noted, “We are stuck in the past with unresolved conflict unable to move forward into the future.”

My new journey continued while reading the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Although this bestseller focused on building successful businesses, it provided insight about continual improvement. No one can be happy and joyful all the time—everyone will experience unexpected tragedy, heartbreak, sadness, failures, pain, and disease. I committed to becoming a better person and learned to like myself—and others—in the process. As recommended by the bestseller “The Gifts of Imperfection,” we need to let go of the person others expect us to be and embrace who we want to be. Your real self is always there; it just takes some soul-searching and hard work to find peace by accepting the past and moving into the future.

As a researcher and person who wanted to live a life of contentment, I began an extensive study of happiness. It was very intriguing as to why some people with few financial assets seem happy and satisfied, while some of the wealthy are miserable? Why do certain couples enjoy long, happy marriages, while others divorce or live regretfully together as roommates? Why do those who are struggling with disease, failures, or mistakes seem content with their circumstances as the Bible teaches us, while others with great blessings don’t? Why are some individuals positive, even in the most difficult times, while many are into gloom only talking about themselves and their insignificant problems, never asking how you are doing? Are certain people genetically predisposed to be happy and joyful while others aren’t?

In my quest for knowledge, many happy people were interviewed, scientific research was examined, and 20+books on the search for happiness were reviewed. I also asked friends and employees how I could improve? WHEW! That request flooded Pandora’s box! No one believed my sincere desire to change! A lot of brutal feedback helped me create new paths of happiness, joy, and contentment. My wife simply wanted the person back she had married in 1971.

The Bottom Line: The goal to a happy and joyful life should not depend on success, materialism, or being
controlled by our harmful pasts. All the harsh feedback from those who cared about me, the research, and with God’s help, roadmaps to happiness surfaced. I finally learned what Dr. John Roseman has been preaching: “Prioritize and nurture your marriage above everything!” Thankfully, Debra and I recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. So, it’s never too late, regardless of your age or circumstances, to re-new yourself with the time you have left and begin your journey to a happier life. Stay tuned for more!

Our family’s purpose is to “Create Opportunities to Improve Lives.” Visit Mike’s non-profit website
www.mikedubose.com for 100+ published articles on many, different topics and his books or you can write to him at [email protected].