Finding Happiness in a Quest to be Better

Satisfaction in Knowledge
I like being happy.  Who doesn’t?  But I find that I’m most naturally happy when I challenge myself to excel in areas that make me a better, well-rounded person.  Continually striving to be better gives me an existential happiness.  When I’m not engaged in challenging myself professionally, personally or in my relationships with other people, I’m not as happy as when I am.   Learning makes me happy.  It’s not empty happiness either.  It’s the kind of fulfilled happiness that comes from turning potential into reality.  And the technologies I’ve used to expand my knowledge base take many forms too.
I learn a lot through reading a huge variety of books.  Books may be an old technology but they’re still hard to beat.  I’ve also engaged in online learning.  Using your computer to broaden your knowledge base works well.  There is more accumulated knowledge on the internet now than in the ancient library of Alexandria.  Online education has given me a much wider range of competence in a broad range of subject matters.  Being knowledgeable makes me happy.
Contentment in Physical Fitness
Exercising makes me happy.  I’ve never felt like a natural athlete and I never played sports in school.  But in the last few years I’ve been making a point of getting off the couch, lacing up my tennis shoes and going for a workout.  I started with walking.  The happiness that you get from a long brisk walk is underrated.  The contentment is multi-layered.  The physical act of walking feels good in itself.  But there’s also a contentment which comes from the sort of meditative, ruminative mental aspect of walking.
It’s a reflective endeavor.  As you get into your walking rhythm it’s easy to let your mind wander about worry-free from one thing to another and the accumulated stress that you were previously unaware of starts to slide away completely.  As I continued my walking regimen my walks got longer and longer and I eventually began running.  As I’ve gotten in better shape I’ve become happier about myself too.

Warmth in Personal Relationships
Fulfilling relationships make me happy.  It’s easy to get lazy in relationships.  Being happy in our relationships requires work though.  I’ve found that all my relationships have gotten warmer and more fulfilling since I’ve become mindful about making an effort to enrich them.  Like physical fitness, relationship fitness requires me to expend energy. 

This is true regardless of whether I’m strengthening professional relationships at work, family relationships, or my relationship with my girlfriend.  One of the tactics that works for all of these is actually giving people your undivided attention.  Being single mindedly attentive to a person when they’re communicating with you is often called active listening.  It can appear gimmicky if a person is not sincere about it.  But I’ve noticed that really concentrating on what a person is telling me without interrupting has improved my relationships across the board.  Communication is a two part process and listening is a skill that I’m still working on improving.

Austin is an avid blogger and loves to travel. He spends most of his time writing and playing music. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University. More of his writing can be found at