Obtaining and measuring happiness is something that the UK government has been actively researching for a while now. It's rather curious that at this stage of our advancement, the notion of understanding and incorporating something so fundamental as happiness sounds as challenging as sending probes to Jupiter to try and fathom its nature. It just shows us how clueless we are emotionally and spiritually regardless of our technological advancement. For many people the 'big' questions are not 'what constitutes a happy life? but transient and fleeting issues, such as 'when will Cheryl Cole get back with her cheating footballer ex-husband?'. Fortunately there are people out there who have taken the big questions seriously and have researched them. Psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell propose a very common sense conclusion which is that happiness is a function of a person understanding and meeting their emotional needs. Some of these needs are universal, such as the need for security, friendship, love, status, intimacy, being stretched and challenged, and to achieving a sense of personal meaning. When these needs are met, we are in balance. Where do we learn to do this? When we look to society for guidance and leadership, what kind of role models does society present to us to emulate? - actors, celebrities,sports people, pop and rock stars (and other dubious celebrities who seem to have no discernible talent other than a willingness to do anything to promote their fame). These people may have financial security, fame and fortune, but that's not enough otherwise they wouldn't wreck it all the way we have seen so many of them do. There is a missing 'X' factor to this formula for happiness. If we want to copy what works, we should look to success stories rather than to people who have it all but who keep perpetually ruining it. If we interview people who have a high rating of self-happiness, then suprisingly money doesn't actually factor into happiness that much (providing there is the presence of a basic income that can buy basic necessities, life shelter, food, heating and a few simple amenities). Crucially people who rate themselves high on the happy scale tend to have their own happiness compass which they follow. Whereas unhappy famous people are always trying to please or impress society at large, trying vainly to stay young and beautiful and make time stand still, truly happy people are clear about their values in life and they follow their values without caring what others think about them. In short happy people are the measure of their own worth, not what society is trying to tell them they should aspire to be. The first step to happiness therefore begins with breaking free from the unspoken and unelected rules of our tribe. If we aren't clear about our own needs, then there are plenty of others who will tell us how we should live our lives and what we should aspire for.
The second step to happiness will follow in the next article.

Author's Bio: 

Felix Economakis is a chartered psychologist and director of THE HEATH MIND BODY THERAPIES, a private clinic in Hampstead London, comprised of psychologists, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and dedicated mental health professionals. He has also studied philosophy and politics and is interested in positive psychology and what makes a good life.