Did you know that the ancient Greeks regarded happiness as the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence? Fast forward a few thousand years, and happiness seems to have slipped right down on the priority list. At a time when most of us are just about getting by, when the world around us is uncertain and having a job that actually pays all the bills is almost a luxury, happiness is not necessarily at the forefront of our mind. But it should be.

Happiness is devalued in our culture

More than just slipping down on the priority list, happiness is actively devalued in our modern culture. Most people believe happiness as a concept is too airy-fairy, and they’re better off focusing on more concrete and attainable goals such as money, or status. We also tend to harbour negative beliefs about happiness: we think happiness is temporary and it doesn’t last, and we even believe that happiness makes us lazy. The ancient Greeks would probably have a word or two to say about this… and I’m pretty sure they would urge us to find our way back to giving happiness the attention it deserves. The truth is, far from being airy-fairy and fleeting, happiness is very much attainable and even more importantly, incredibly beneficial for us.

Happy people are healthier and they live longer

I am yet to meet a person who doesn’t want to be healthy. No matter how old we are and what we do for a living, we all want to enjoy good health. Research has proven time and time again that happier people are healthier – so if there’s a single reason why we should value happiness more that applies to anyone and everyone, it is this one. But health is not the only benefit – happiness is also linked to longevity. So if you want to live a long (and healthy) life, it’s time to start prioritising your happiness.

Happy people are more successful at work

This one is for all the professionals out there: if you want more success at work, focus on your happiness. I can just see the look of disbelief on your face, but hear me out. If we move away from the definition of happiness as “having fun” or “sensory pleasure”, and take the deeper sense of happiness such as contentment and being satisfied with life, then we can suddenly see how it can contribute to success. In fact, researchers go as far as saying that happiness may be the single biggest determinant of success at work – and that’s because happiness makes you more creative, more productive, and more resilient in the face of challenges.

Happiness makes you a better person

Whether you’re a professional or not, you will reap the benefits of happiness simply because it will make you a better person. You will make better decisions and adopt healthier habits when you take your happiness seriously. A happy disposition also fosters better communication, understanding, and connection with others – and these inevitably lead to better relationships. You will become a better friend, a better partner, and a better parent when you’re happy with your life; so it’s not only you who will benefit, but also the people around you.

And if all of the above facts are not enough to convince you that happiness is important, consider this: one of the top five regrets of dying people is not allowing themselves to be happier… which is really sad. We only have one, precious life; and eventually we all realise this – just make sure it’s not too late when that realisation comes. Don’t wait to get to the end of your life only to regret you didn’t choose happiness when you could’ve. Today is the perfect day to shift your focus and decide to put your happiness first.

Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash