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What is Happiness?

At Pathways to Happiness, we agree with Ben Franklin's declaration: "The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness," he said. "You have to catch it yourself."

We believe that "catching happiness" is:

A choice. Most of us believe in free will but only as a matter of theory. In reality, we live most of our lives as a matter of habit, with beliefs and responses that are largely based on old (and often negative) childhood patterns. Making that choice is one pathway to happiness.

A practice. In order to change life-long beliefs and attitudes, we have to put forth consistent and meaningful effort. To cultivate a new set of attitudes takes time, just like learning to play the piano, mastering yoga postures, or planting a garden. But research now shows conclusively that the choice we make to approach life either as an optimist or a pessimist can have a significant effect on our success, health, well-being and longevity.

A life-long habit. Just like eating well or exercising, the pursuit of happiness is not a one-time event: it is a life-long habit. To paraphrase author Barbara De Angelis, happiness (like love) "is a choice you make from moment to moment."

A passionate journey. What do you love doing? If you want increased enthusiasm, vitality, and engagement, fill your life with what you love!

Being on purpose. Why are you here? What is the purpose of your life? Purpose is expressed in the way that you bring your gifts to every day of your life. When your gifts, your unique strengths, are used in service of something larger than yourself, your life has meaning and you feel great life satisfaction.

Happiness is not:

  • Wishful thinking or getting lucky. Rather, it can be achieved by building certain practices and skills.
  • Found through more money, more stuff, better circumstances, or even better health, better appearance, or more education. It is an internal state.
  • Always getting what you want. Rather, the key to happiness is having the skills and resilience to react with grace and equanimity to whatever life throws your way.
  • An unreachable goal. Most people can increase their happiness by knowing and using their signature strengths; minimizing negative thought-patterns that no longer serve a useful purpose; and incorporating a few simple, research tested practices into their daily lives.

To find out if Pathways to Happiness is for you, click here!

The next Pathways to Happiness course begins September 19, 2007. Prepare to embark on a wondrous journey toward happiness! See our Registration page for more information, call 301-587-1835 or email:


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