What gives you happiness in life?

I just read a really interesting article by Adele Horen in The Age, about a conference on happiness held by buddhist teaching group, the Vajrayana Institute. One of the presenters was a Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, who says that people are very bad at predicting what will make them happy.
He said that while often people choose having kids as a path to happiness, studies have shown that happiness is in fact adversely affected by having kids, and doesn't return to its previous level until the kids move out of home (ouch!).
The upshot was that we have a biological urge to reproduce, but we don't have a biological urge to do things to make us happy.
Another presenter - a professor of psychology and psychiatry - had studied MRIs of buddhist monks and said that meditation is a way of changing the "hardwiring" of our brains to achieve greater happiness and compassion.
Most people do seem to struggle with balancing their short term versus long term goals, and their need versus wants. So my question is - what gives you happiness in life - and if it took you a while to figure it out, how did you get there?

Happiness is... not having children [The Age]


Comments

    As a Baby Boomer, let me tell you, the pursuit of happiness has been a quest of mine for some time.

    At this stage I haven't quite figured it out, (and I've tried a few things), but having said that I would say having children is at the top end of the scale.

    My wife and I still have two mid twenties 'children' at home, (can't seem to get rid of them), and the happiness and joy they and their friends bring to our lives is priceless.

    Their humour, vibrance, innocence, enthusiasm, and overall lust for life is intoxicating.

    Hindsight is a great thing, I look back now at certain phases of my life and think some points were the happiest of all, but I didn't understand that at the time.

    I can say this, if you have the sweet feeling of happiness at the moment, capture it, remember it, savour it.

    In years to come, the mere fleeting thought of that time will bring the tears of happiness flooding back.

    I tell the kids on a regular basis, whatever you do in life, please, be happy.

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