Looking around, where are all the people who have arrived at happiness? Maybe as a goal, happiness is something that we just don’t ever seem to achieve.
And assuming that the majority of us don’t ever actually achieve happiness, rather than that being a sad or depressing thing, what if it actually opens us up and means that there’s more to life than pursuing happiness? Maybe there’s a sense of freedom, and paradoxically happiness, that comes from letting go of the goal of happiness.
The pursuit of happiness at a future point in our lives, in some ways, diminishes the state of our current life. Look outside. Is it a nice day? Look down. Is your body healthy and in generally good shape? Are you hungry? Homeless? Without opportunity?
The fact is, there is a lot of happiness in most of our lives right now. We just don’t see it because we’re focused on future happiness. We live with the belief that we’ll only be happy when we’ve lost weight, when we’ve found a great partner, when we’ve paid off our debt, and so it goes. Happiness when prevents us from seeing happiness now.
Happiness is stressful
When happiness transitions from being a natural state to a defined goal, it paradoxically (and completely counter-productively) introduces an element of stress to it. A goal is either reached or it isn’t. Obviously we start out wanting to succeed and achieve the goal. But at what cost? How can creating a pressurised situation in order to achieve a sense of happiness actually even happen? It’s setting yourself up for failure.
Happiness is just one side of the equation
Life is a bit like a see-saw. If you only have one emotion (happiness) on the see-saw, it won’t move either up or down. You need at least one other emotion to get that. It can be a ‘good’ emotion (love, joy, peace) or a ‘bad’ emotion (anger, distrust, fear). It doesn’t matter what the emotion is, it’s the fact that another emotion simply needs to be there.
Happiness is relative. We can only experience happiness because we’ve experienced sadness, grief, confusion, anger and loss. In many ways, the absence of those ‘negative’ emotions in any given situation, should impart some degree of happiness into it. So a life filled with just happiness, isn’t only unlikely, it’s pretty much impossible.
What is happy anyway?
It’s ironic we exert so much stress, energy, panic and fear for what exactly? Happiness isn’t some mystical that we need to climb mountains and swim oceans to get to. at the risk of sounding like a pretentious hipster yogi (which I’m not – I don’t have the man bun or tatts), in all honesty, we should be able to be happy right now. Or at the very least, be able to tune in to happiness more frequently than we do.
The reality is that for most of us, for most of our everyday lives, we’re doing normal, everyday things. Beachside holidays, overseas travel, expensive cars – these things aren’t our everyday reality. So what we need to do is find a way to tap into happiness in the little everyday things we do.
Let’s take something as basic and everyday as washing dishes after a meal. Sure it’s not the most exciting thing you could be doing with your life. But guess what? It is what you’re doing with your life at that particular moment. So – why not make the most of it?
Are you healthy? Did you have a good day? Do you have a roof over your head? Are you loved? Is there a good chance you’ll live to see another day? These are all things that can potentially make us happy, and all thoughts and feelings we can experience doing something as mundane as the washing up.
Maybe we’ve made happiness overly complicated when it really shouldn’t be. Maybe happiness is easier to access than we realise. Maybe this might be something you consider and try to apply in your own life. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?…