“Isn’t it weird how everyone goes to sleep at night? Like, everyone in the whole planet. All these people, people I’ll never know—some are poor, some are rich; some sleep in beds, some sleep on the floor. But at the end of the day, everyone sleeps. – Deja, “This is Us” S2E17, 2018
In a world caught up in equality, diversity, inclusion, and rights, there is probably no greater equalizer than sleep. No matter who you are, where you came from, your past, your future, your status, your position, your genes, or your bank account, we all must sleep at the end of the day.
Why is it so hard to get along? Why do we struggle so mightily to understand each other? How can we learn to be better leaders, parents, friends, or neighbors? I believe that everyone, no matter where they live or what they do, has seven basic desires that determine our overall happiness. When we understand these, it can help us understand, work with, live with, and deal with each other better. When we know these seven things and can help each other achieve them, we have taken a huge step in being successful and helping others to achieve their goals.
So, let’s take a look at my “Seven Happiness Factors”. How does my list stack up to yours?
Seven Happiness Factors
- Basic physical requirements (air, food, water, warmth) – The firsts and, perhaps, most important human desire is that the basic physical requirements for life are met. No one can excel when they are hungry. You can’t expect an individual to do their best or give their best if they are consumed with fulfilling these basic needs. When we can step back and see the needs of others AND address them, we earn the right to be heard. By meeting these needs, we alleviate a burden that, quite possibly, we struggle to even understand.
- Respect (fair treatment) – Everyone wants to feel that they are being treated fairly. When we are treated fairly, we become motivated to do our best. The opposite is also true… when we are not treated fairly, we are demotivated. Giving others a chance to excel, to speak up, to participate, to learn, to advance, to contribute, or to gain what they have earned builds a culture of character and integrity. The best way to understand how to treat others is to invoke the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you yourself would want to be treated. When we do this, we nurture an environment where everyone can do their best.
- Freedom (the ability to pursue happiness) – No one wants to feel that they do not have the ability to pursue those things that brings them happiness. Having the freedom to make your own decisions (with limits, of course) gives a sense of empowerment that everyone craves. Being able to make choices, whether you eventually make good ones or not, gives individuals a sense of liberty that can’t be fulfilled in any other way. When we allow others a sense of freedom, we unleash their abilities to do more and do it better.
- Opportunity (a chance to excel) – In addition to freedom, everyone wants to ability to do better. No one thrives in an environment in which they feel that life will never get better or that their chances to do more or have more influence don’t exist. When individuals are allowed to chart their own future path, their level of contentment usually rises.
- Love (someone that cares) – Despite what some may say, everyone desires and needs others in their life that care. We want others to enjoy our company. We want companionship (again, with limits) and most of our favorite memories involve other people. In the workplace, when you show others that you care about them as individuals… that you care about what is important to them… they are more loyal, work harder, and are more motivated to achieve success. A person-to-person connection is essential if you hope to create a positive place to be, live, or work.
- Purpose (something meaningful to do) – We all want to feel that we are making a difference. We want our work to be important. We want our efforts to have meaning. When we help others see the purpose in what they do or find their purpose in living, we accomplish much in the life of that person.
- Hope (something to look forward to) – Just like the children are about Christmas, we all enjoy and need something positive to look forward to. We need to have a hope for our future. We need to have a goal that we are striving to achieve. We need to pursue an accomplishment. When we help others find hope or see the positive in their future, we give them a gift… a gift that provides encouragement. We also have a need to understand our eternal hope. For those struggling to understand how to have that kind of hope, I encourage you to read a previous edition of The Porch that you can find here (What is your hope?).
Deja was right when she said, “At the end of the day, everyone sleeps.” And, for us as humans, there are things that, when we don’t have them, cause our lives to be chaotic, unfulfilling, unmotivated, or unhappy. When we help others to achieve these Seven Happiness Factors, we help them become more content, more productive, and more positive.
Think about what you can do today to make a difference in the life of someone else.