NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

September 6, 2013

A good question to ask yourself: Am I happy yet?

While stopping at the red light, I notice that the car in front of me has a bumper sticker saying, “Are we happy yet?”

I feel somewhat annoyed. “No,” I want to scream at the driver. “I am having a bad day, and this whole year has been really hard, so don’t talk to me about happiness ... at least not yet.”

At some point in our lives, it is good to confront that question: “Am I happy, truly happy?” If we come up with a “yes,” we are, sad to say, most likely in the minority. It is true that there are some who seem to have been born happy and good-natured, feeling content with what life shows them. However, I venture to say, most of us struggle to maintain a happy feeling of peacefulness and optimism.

Time magazine recently devoted their cover story to “The Pursuit of Happiness,” pointing out that our nation is obsessed with this pursuit. It is even found in our Declaration of Independence: “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Notice it does not say we have a right to find happiness, just pursue it. When considering this endeavor, it is helpful to ask, “What do I need to be happy, and are my needs being sufficiently met?

When we were younger, maybe a life full of material rewards, a new baby or a passionate romance, or a better job was all we needed to feel happy. But now, as Boomers and Beyond, we may be hoping to fulfill other needs.

Dr. Abraham Maslow, referred to as the father of humanistic psychology, came up with a hierarchy, a “Pyramid of Needs.”

At the bottom level is where our Physiological Needs are met, the need for oxygen, water, food, warmth and sleep. Often, but not always, included in this category is the need for sex. Without these essential needs being fulfilled, it is very challenging to be happy.

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