Well-Being, Deep Happiness, and What Endures
It is within your power to experience well-being. Well-being is not something you are fortunate to have or unlucky for not having. It is an internal state available to you, independent of the specific circumstances of your life. It is important to know this in order to create the conditions to bring about contentment and well-being.
The basic necessities to well-being are: having enough, physically and emotionally; being aware of your basic dignity and worth; living within your means in order to have the resources to put toward what matters most; and having loving relationships.
Some people have most of the necessities for well-being, but do not experience this as a reality. For example, what is "enough" is a moving target for some people, leading to a constant search for more. Others link their sense of self-worth to external feedback and validation, which makes the experience of self-worth tenuous at best. Others might love and be loved but cannot bring the best of themselves to their important relationships. Some people are so hungry for what they don't have that it blunts their awareness of what is here for them right now.
If you experience access to the basic necessities of well-being as not accessible to you, then this is where you focus in your intentional practices.
Deep happiness, as defined here, requires that you know how to cultivate well-being, but is not synonymous with it. Unlike well-being, which with practice you can come to experience much of the time, deep happiness is episodic – experienced in moments. While these moments are not continuous, they become deeply entrenched in your cellular memory. They will stay with you and give meaning to your life. The state of deep happiness is akin to a feeling of profound connection – connection to yourself, to others, to everything.
In the future, what will endure in your memory is not the number of positive feelings or pleasurable experiences that you have had. What will most likely stay with you are peak and poignant moments: the time you met your best friend or partner, had a creative breakthrough, chose to leave a job in order to be more fulfilled, moved to a new home, took a life-altering trip, said goodbye to your child leaving for college, revealed yourself in a new way to a friend, screwed up your courage and said "yes" to something or someone in spite of fear, entered a new relationship, or courageously took a risk and redefined an existing relationship. These poignant moments occur when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and take risks in the service of living in alignment with what matters most.