Are you happy?

How many times in your life have you been asked this simple question? How many times have you asked it of others? How many times have you asked it of yourself?

Are you happy…at you job?…in your relationship?…where you live?

How often have you said yes? How often have you said no?

Regardless of your answer, the question itself “are you happy” forces us to think deeper about a situation and become more self-aware. It is without a doubt a very powerful question and one we should ask ourselves regularly.

But is there a better question?

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a colleague and the topic of happiness [at work] came up. At one point during our conversation I asked him that simple question “are you happy?”  After a short but tangible pause, he replied, “Andy, you’re asking me the wrong question.” His reply took me by surprise as I expected him to simply say “sure” or “yeah, most of the time” like most of us probably would.  But he didn’t.

“You should be asking me…are you [as] happy [as you could be]?

“Wow,” I said.  “Talk about a powerful question! …So are you as happy as you could be?”

He honestly replied. “I don’t know.”

This new question “are you as happy as you could be?” has stuck with me.  I’ve realized that it’s a very difficult question to answer because it focuses you to think about what would make you the most happy or at least happier than you are now in concrete terms. For some people happiness would be a shorter commute; for others working for themselves is their key to happiness; while others just need to get away from a horrible boss.

So whether the context is work, relationships, or even life in general;  be brave, think hard, and ask yourself the better question.

Am I as happy as I could be?