By Dr. Peter M. Kalellis

Happiness is like God-given manna: Food for the day given to Israelites while in the desert. It is to be gathered in grains and enjoyed every day.

If you were to ask any number of friends and colleagues what is it that can make them happy, the answer would be different for each. Why? Because the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs are unique for everyone.

The purpose of this article is to direct you to a simple yet more realistic way to personal happiness. Try to remember three words: love, joy and peace. These familiar words maintain the essence of human life, a universal need for both men and women. Throughout my psychological training, emotional human needs have become my quest. In counseling unhappy people—some of whom were even surrounded by material wealth—it was evident that they have had neither true love, no real joy, nor inner peace in their lives.

To relieve clients with symptoms of anxiety, boredom, depression, a sense of emptiness or unresolved internal conflicts, I have come to realize that most people who seek my help need compassion, care, understanding and guidance to explore and deal with the troublesome areas. Whatever anxieties, obstacles, or conflicts they are facing, or traumatic events that have occurred in earlier years and currently affect their present behavior, they all need some perspective to find resolution. However, invariably the more profound need in their hearts is the desire for a happier, more rewarding, and peaceful life.

The underlying goal of any therapy is to live a better life. In essence, it is a search for peace, joy, and happiness. The pursuit of happiness is universal to all humans. No one wants to suffer, and most people employ intellect and feelings, mind and heart, to avoid it, even if knowing on a deeper level that avoidance is not always possible. Like joy, pain is an inevitable part of life. At times, reasonably coping with pain can provide relief, new choices, and can sometimes open a different direction in life.

Although many people have similar yearnings, the approach to a happier and more creative life is different for each person. In their search for happiness, they also desire peace. All of us wish to experience that more profound feeling of joy and the reassurance that we are appreciated and loved.

Both men and women need inner peace, joy, and happiness. Regardless of how content we may feel, we still want to improve our current living conditions and make our life more wholesome and fulfilling. All of us want to be comfortable, secure, and happy, but how each of us perceives happiness differs dramatically.

Sometimes our efforts to be happy result in disappointment, because most of us have difficulty understanding the difference between happiness and joy. As we learn to love, feel real joy, gain inner peace and clarity of mind, we notice that happiness is a state of being, created by favorable external components—whatever is available to make our living conditions pleasant and pleasurable. Joy and peace, however, are inner feelings, a result of our perceptions of what we hear, see, and touch, and of how we face the realities of life and of how we design our personal lives.

In months to come, I will provide you with practical and realistic tools for a happier life. Undoubtedly there will always be suffering in this world. Our bad choices cause much of it, and some of it is caused by sudden uninvited catastrophes that occur in nature. The good news is that we can relieve suffering and bring a ray of hope to ourselves, to our afflicted brothers and sisters. If you want to feel better, do something good for another person. In doing so, you will experience an inner joy that would last you for a long time. And, yes, it may seem like a drop in the ocean, but it is the many drops that make that ocean.