Not all the things we want turn out to be good for us. Although some fulfilled wishes cause no harm, they may still interfere with our getting that which is best for us.
All of us deserve food, drink, shelter, and clothing, but too much of a good thing may contribute to unhappiness. Too much wealth, for example, can prevent us from acquiring those things that lead to happiness, those things that are good for the soul--honesty, loyalty, trust, knowledge, wisdom, generosity, self-control, skill, friendship, and love.
- Happy people understand that comparisons with others spoil their happiness either by producing envy or pride. They realize that there always will be others who have more. There will always will be others who have less. The happiest people don't care. They measure themselves by their internal yardstick.
- Materialism poisons happiness. Rich materialists—because they always want "just a little more"— aren’t as happy as those who care less about getting and spending. The happiest people do not wear themselves out to get rich, but to the contrary, have the wisdom to show restraint in their pursuits.
- There also appears to be a "set point" for happiness. Some people have more grumpy genes, others have more cheerful genes. People can improve or hinder genetic endowments but they aren’t likely to make vast changes in their set point. Happy people learn to accept their genetic condition better than the unhappy.
- Health has little to do with happiness. Until one becomes severely ill, happiness seems unaffected by health. Healthy people because they take their health for granted experience no special happiness from their robustness, while hypochondriacs receive masochistic type "happiness" from their misery.
- Happiness occurs most often when people become so engaged in absorbing activities that they lose track of time. This concentrated captivation—known as "flow" by those who study this phenomenon—brings intense satisfaction. Flow can occur with the simplest to the most complex of tasks. Writing, playing basketball, working a jigsaw puzzle, playing with the children, or doing heart surgery—can contribute to a life of great satisfaction. It’s the joyful concentration on the activity that counts, not the task itself.
- Because people feel happiest when they are doing what they do best, flow stretches someone without going beyond their capacity for achievement. Everyone has unique strengths. The happiest use them. Likewise the happiest people don't try to push themselves too far beyond their capabilities.
- Gratitude—even for the smallest pleasures—enhances happiness. Learning to savor the present moment and talking and writing about those things that produce appreciation improves the happiness factor.
- Forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness while its antithesis, resentment, destroys happiness more than any other emotion. Those who cause resentment may be spiritually sick. Happy people ask God to help them show the same tolerance, compassion, empathy and patience to those who have harmed them as they would a sick friend.
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
Ecclesiastes 5: 19-20