A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
What is happiness and how can I get it?
Let’s start by working what it is NOT first. Happiness is not 2 weeks in Fiji or waking up in some random bed at 8am on Sunday morning looking for your underwear. Happiness is not getting your end of year bonus and buying shoes online for Christmas. Happiness is not a 2L tub of cookies and cream ice-cream (although that is delicious). These things are all material and fleeting. They do not provide the inner contentment that happiness does. We always seem to look outward when we value and assess happiness. Why not start to look inward?
We plan, we project, we ponder, we scheme, we prepare and we dream. There is nothing wrong with this but you won’t find happiness there. The future is an unchartered cosmos that we do not fully understand. It is full of self-fulfilling prophecies and words like destiny and fate. If you believe in destiny and fate, does that mean you are just playing out the script as it was planned? If you don’t does that mean you are living a meaningless life? Those are thoughts for another day, but the premise from all of this is that the pondering and pontificating get you nowhere, fast! They end up in pic-spirations(see below) and justifying a means for a seemingly unattainable end.
So the future is out. What about our past?
Can we take solace in what we have done? Reminiscing on those days on the beach when we were 14 or the first girl we kissed when 8 of our friends were egging you on and 9 of her friends were telling her it was a good idea, all the while, you were terrified and these so called friends were vicariously soaking up the moment. The reality is that they are great to smile and laugh about. They provide great foundations for many friendships and lasting memories. That is what they are though, memories and recollections. They cannot be artificially installed into our current predicament. They do not instill a newfound sense of contentment. There is no adrenalin or deep realization. It is a replay. A repetition. Happiness is fleeting and although at the time they were poignant and special, now they are just building blocks to which we look back and do what we always do, judge. Did we collect and garner enough moments to look back on and be happy? That leads us to where we need to look. To where our moments are created. To the present.
Back full circle. What is happiness and where can I get it?
Happiness exists in what we perceive. What do we recognize, observe, take in, identify? What elements from our lives, our everyday lives, can we absorb and appreciate? These are the things that will ensure our happiness. The smell of fresh brewed coffee on a winter’s morning may be enough for a smile and a moment of contentment. That first hug from your loved one before you leave the house. Take a moment to give an ‘airport hug’. A busker on the subway playing guitar like it’s the path to his soul. Steal his love for the music and let it enter your bubble.
I have always been cynical and skeptical about guides or coaches when they say “take it all in”. What does this even mean? If you are looking over the Grand Canyon and they say, take another moment and really soak it all up. Looking back, what they meant to say was, appreciate the moment. Allow yourself to be immersed in the pleasure of what you are doing. Whether they are the simple pleasures, like the coffee, or the occasional pleasures like the sparkling blue water on your Fiji holiday. Stop for that moment and allow yourself to really embrace it.
There is no trick. I haven’t found a cheat sheet. The truth is, if you keep looking for the sweet elixir that is happiness, you will be disappointed. Rainbows are not meant to be found, just like there is no pot of gold. Start controlling the things that truly make you happy and let yourself be that person in amongst the chaos of the world we live in. Don’t be afraid to cry, to say, “I love you”, to hope or to procrastinate. Just remember to take time to be happy.