“The most terrible punishment for a human being would be condemnation to a lifetime of work utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning”. (Dostoiévski)

 We all want the same thing: happiness. Of course we want to be happy! We want to capture happiness, as if it was possible to take it by the hands, for the whole life. Thus, we witness the worst version for happiness: treat it as a product, something that can be consumed as a commodity.

Is it possible to be happy? Of course! Is it possible to be happy all the time? We know we do not. So there is a powerful – and realistic – idea in this regard: our level of happiness depends on the ability to deal with frustration, disappointment and delusion. We are not in control of everything, but we can always choose how to think, feel and act, even in situations that were not chosen by us.

The first condition for being happy depends on the ability to go through all that has not been chosen to live, for all casual, fortuitous and unforeseeable events. Some of them will be positive, others will be negatively painful. Authentically happy people do not live the illusion of being in control. They live, on the other hand, the following consciousness: “I recognize that I do not know what will happen in my journey, but I will choose what I want to happen; when everything happens differently from what I have chosen, I still have a choice – to choose the attitude by which I will go through things not chosen. ” This is the thought capable of giving us true happiness. It is a powerful thought.

This idea connects us to another aspect of happiness: awareness for our personal values. Happy individuals have clarity for their values and use them as a compass for their life and career choices. Losing the sense of happiness, to a large extent, means not being at peace with the choices made, in personal and professional life. Making value-oriented choices leads to a healthy impact when we realize that things “make sense,” just like Dostoiévski’s idea.

Happiness also depends on the perception of “serving the world.” And how do we do that? Offering our talents, our natural gifts, our vocation. Everyone has some kind of talent, something that makes us unique and singular, everything that we are able to do perfectly, more and more with our own way, with a personal touch of creativity. Serving the world through our talents gives us the sense of usefulness, according to Dostoiévski’s idea.

The quality of our relationships – of all natures, in all our different roles – will also serve as an important measure of our level of happiness. Badly made terms, conflicting relationships, and bad dialogs take from us an immense slice of happiness. Bringing peace and high meaning to relationships, however, exponentially increases the feeling of being happy.

Lastly, authentic happiness depends on the perspective of personal and professional growth. This is not measured solely by the amount of promotions or salary increases, but by how much we feel challenged within our limits, and how these challenges expand skills and bring continuous learning. It is a powerful feeling.

In the stereotype of a happy person, you will always find he or she cheerful and smiling. This will indeed happen, but not always. Truly happy people feel a strong restlessness, discomfort and nonconformity when life does not offer the best possibility. I often tell my friends, readers and clients: our soul “wears Prada”, that is, it accepts nothing but the most spectacular and wonderful alternative of present and future. Put another way: our soul does not accept crap or trash, of any kind, and in no aspect of our life. For this reason, a permanent dose of restlessness will serve as a healthy measure to show how dissatisfied our soul is with what we have done and chosen to do.

The more we focus on our happiness, the more it will escape us. This is a wonderful paradox. We are truly happy in those moments when we are inspired by something greater than ourselves, something that nourishes us with Purpose, when we live our most important values, talents, learning, relationships. Whenever happiness becomes a healthy side effect not of the search for happiness, but the happiness of this search. It is a powerful attitude.


ROGÉRIO CHÉR, is a partner of Empreender Vida e Carreira, author of the bestselling “Entrepreneurship in the Vein – a constant learning” and the book “Engagement – best practices in Leadership, Organizational Culture and Happiness at Work”, both published in Brazil.