What is happiness? What makes for a happy life? Go to any big bookstore, and you'll find lots of authors tackling the question. Ring all those books up at the register and you'll likely end up very unhappy at the total.
The roman lawyer and stoic thinker Seneca once wrote: "A happy life is one in harmony with its own nature."
An unhappy person is out of step with herself. A happy person experiences a large measure of inner harmony. She lives in accordance with her own highest nature.
In his strange film Zelig, Woody Allen long ago masterfully caricatured the chamelion-like tendency that many people have to fit in. We dress in the right style and eat at the right places, drive the appropriate cars, talk in the lingo of those around us, and do as we’re expected to do, all in a misplaced search for happiness. The only reliable formula, Seneca believed, is to live and act in harmony with your own best nature. He believed, first, that there is a universal human nature that should be respected in all that we do. But he also wanted each of us to be true to who we uniquely are, at our potential best - with our own talents and abilities honed in a way that's right for us, but also put into service to others.
Where are the tensions in your life? If you take an inventory of your own obstacles to happiness, I think it's likely that you’ll find places where you aren’t being true enough to your deepest and highest nature. The good news is, you can make the changes you need to make to live and act in a way that is more natural for who you are and distinctively can be. It is, after all, your nature. Embrace it and work with it. That's the path to happiness, according to the philosopher.