It’s not that I think happiness shouldn’t be chased after, or grabbed for. Happiness is something that, in fact, may very well be tied to the purpose behind human consciousness. Because of this it’s important to go into every day with happiness at the forefront of your mind. This can be a struggle though. Many different things in life seem to stand between us and happiness. How in the world can we seek to achieve happiness if we are certain that things will always find a way to separate us from it? What is the point of even trying to be happy if we know we will be unhappy again? Is happiness just some flippant and shallow idea that is unobtainable in reality?
These are all fantastic questions. They may feel like inquiries filled with disdain or pessimism, but I challenge that they are the opposite. They are the beginning of understanding what happiness truly is, and how we can achieve a state of happiness more frequently.
The True Nature of Happiness
Happiness comes in many forms and fashions. What makes me happy will most likely not bring you the same level of happiness. In fact it can have an adverse effect. Because of this characteristic, happiness gives us a few misleading connotations. One of these concepts is that happiness is some nearly-unattainable thing that you will only have after you achieve some goal that you set for yourself. This is especially the narrative as it is understood by many in the USA. This idea is that we have to work to achieve happiness, and while that is true, we are misconstruing what the “work” actually is.
Happiness is not something that you can pin behind a goal and put off until you achieve that goal. If you do that, not only will you never have happiness, but you are also not likely to achieve the goal in the way you wanted. This is what capitalism tells us to do though. Put off our happiness until we achieve the next goal at work, or the next measure of success, or wealth. This often manifests itself in people who claim that they “can’t be happy here” or “need to move to be happy”, or even “I’ll just work a bit harder until my promotion then I can relax”. It also causes excessive shopping or indulgent purchases, to chase the happiness that we have learned to associate with that material item. All of these mindsets are you, placing happiness behind a goal. You could choose to have that happiness, but because of the way the world has shaped you and been shaped by you, you choose to place happiness behind the goal in a hope to inspire yourself to go after that goal. Admirable, but dangerous.
This is dangerous behavior because it tethers your happiness to material objects, or senseless desires. Once you allow happiness, or any emotion, to be tied to something, you give that thing passage to all your other emotions. A goal that seemingly only brought you peace when you first envisioned it, quickly becomes something you hate to think about. We cannot allow any of our emotions to be tied and controlled by matters of the world, the flesh, the experience, or we sacrifice autonomy of all our emotions.
Happiness is not some material you can trade for hard work, or a better future. It is something you will feel, have felt, and must feel. It is part of you that you alone can access and exercise like a muscle. Happiness will not come because you find a purpose, or achieve something. Achieving happiness is part of your purpose.
Reading all of that though doesn’t help you feel happier today. I know. Unfortunately I’m not saying that I can make you feel happier. I cannot. I cannot pretend to have any special control over your emotions. I don’t even pretend to have “control” over my own. What I can tell you, is how I have found happiness. If we trust each other, and work hard, we can both find at least a little more happiness too.
I have been dedicating my life to the pursuit of happiness and harmony. The blog itself was started with that purpose and intention in mind. It is my magnum opus of this intention. With this work, and the trials of my life preceding it, I found that happiness is not something I can find by running after it, I have to work it into my existence. Even the phrase “pursuit of happiness” has begun to rub me differently. Happiness is not something you chase physically, but more, something you make an emotional and mental effort similar to “chasing”. Keeping happiness present. Bring happiness to the present moment, as frequently as your attention allows.
Some people say happiness is a choice. I don’t disagree, though I don’t disagree with much. I like this idea because I acknowledge that we must choose to be happy, but happiness is much more than a choice. Telling people that happiness is a choice is dangerous because there are a lot of people in the world, myself included, who have struggled or are struggling with an inability to be happy. It can be clinical and chronic. So while I understand and agree that happiness is a choice, it is also so much more than that. While you must make a choice to be happy, or you will not, there is more to being happy than just making the choice. Making the choice to be happy is indeed the first step.
After that, put your choice into action with practice. Practice being happy as often as you can. That sounds stupid at first, but trust the system:
- Take note of the times you are happy.
- It’s easier to believe you are always unhappy in unhappy moments, this works both ways, you will feel happy more frequently, if you take the time to acknowledge when you are happy.
- Practice remembering the feeling of happiness, and why you were happy, with those memories.
- “I was happy, because I was fulfilled.” “I was happy because I felt success” etc.
- Each time redefine, or emphasize what happiness means to you
- “Happiness is love” “Happiness is Fulfillment”, whatever it means to you.
- Do your best to apply these affirmations and values to times of unhappiness.
- “I am unhappy, because I do not feel fulfilled.” or “I am unhappy because I feel unloved” or whatever is causing your unhappiness at that moment.
These simple steps are not a complete guide to happiness. Anyone who offers you that is trying to sell you something. The biggest take away from the process is to take note of the times you are unhappy, because we often forget to highlight them as much as our unhappy times. Then do your best to feel happiness when you begin to notice unhappiness. Though you cannot simply begin to “feel” something because you want to, you can find memories, and frequencies, that remind you of the feeling of happiness. Sparking the emotion inside of you, to some degree. Those are the things that will remind you how happy feels, even when obstacles may seem to be in your way.
Remember also that happiness is a human emotion. That means it comes from the human, not from stuff outside of the human. Happiness has to come from inside of you. We project happiness, we do not attract it. It comes from inside though it can be hard to find buried beneath the surface, you will use the knowledge you receive in the unhappy times to help you find that happiness more consistently, when it seems like you will never see it again. At least this is what works for me, and I hope that for at least one other person it might do the same. Remember, as with all things on this plane of duality, you have to understand happiness to feel unhappy, so if you are currently unhappy, that’s because you understand, and are capable of happiness. Demonstrating unhappiness proves our innate capacity for happiness, so never let yourself be convinced that you “cannot be happy”, if that were true then you couldn’t be unhappy either. For this reason we should not run away from unhappiness, but fully embrace it, so that we may enjoy our happy moments that much more.