A friend from the states wrote to me asking me for advice on happiness. What it means, how to achieve it, what prevents it, and why we let it. I was very excited that he reached out to me on this topic because I think happiness is and emotion that everyone possesses but isn’t quite sure how it works within us.
The term happiness is used to describe a consistent feeling or an emotion that one may be having. What gives us this feeling, of course, varies on the individual, but the feeling of happiness that we have inside us is nearly identical. Having complete happiness is being able to be in a place of peace, calm and contentment. Not allowing your focus to be on the past or the future, but living life fully in the moment. During this time, you are not receptive to any outside source of stimulation, nothing is disturbing you and you are not suffering in anyway.
Through research, as well and personal encounter, I have began to realize that the word happiness is very similar to the word love, in the sense that it is typically overused and in ways that can diminish the overall meaning. The most common mistake that people make, is confusing the word happiness and excitement. While yes, you are able to experience both of these simultaneously, you need to be able to differentiate the two in order to achieve full happiness within yourself. Let me better explain this… Our body, when we experience excitement, releases stimuli which is what gives us this rush of happiness. This stimuli is something that our body craves daily, and that is a part of human nature, but because we sometimes over search this stimulation, it slowly clouds our over all happiness.
We create this illusion in our heads that happiness is like a roller coaster. That one is not able to be happy all the time, and that in order to experience happiness you have to experience sadness. But what we fail to see, is that all of our ‘suffering’ is actually created by us individually. We have formed an unconscious way of living as well as an addiction to the pleasure that we receive from excitement. But what happens after you’ve reached that peak of excitement? Then are you truly happy in every sense? Or do you find yourself contemplating what’s next? Meaning what will be the next thing that will come along to be equivalent to this current feeling? Or even more in depth, what are we actually searching for? For example, maybe there has been a movie that you have been waiting to see for a long time now. You finally get to the theatre, popcorn and soda ready and enjoy these two hours while watching this film. Once the movie is over and the end credits are rolling, you can feel a type of relief inside you, a sort of peacefulness. But after some days, your body becomes less enthused from the movie, because it is in the past, and begins to start searching for the next thing that will give it this rush. The part of this example that we are actually in search for is the peacefulness that we feel after the movie is over. The rest is what we allow our ego to control. External objects can only keep us happy for a short period of time. By keeping this roller coaster mentality, you will always be seeking more in life and you will never be able to be truly happy and content with your own as it is. We are able to diminish this illusion by allowing our ego to decrease just enough so that we don’t feel the need or want of any stimulation. Once you achieve this, and are at a place of complete peacefulness and contentment, you will receive indefinite happiness.
The process of dismissing your ego to this point can take many years as well as a lot of focus and practice. Below I have some daily things that you can do to allow yourself to receive and sustain the indefinite happiness that you deserve.
The importance of this word is way to often overlooked. Because our lives are hectic we tend to take many things for granite. Make sure to take some time each day, whether in a journal, in your mind, or even in the notes on your phone, to write down and express the things that you are truly grateful, for in life. Allow yourself to be more appreciative of the things that you have rather than striving for the things that you don’t. Shift the negative thoughts to positive ones and allowing yourself to be aware of the goodness that you have in your life. For example: Your current job doesn’t exactly pay the amount of money that you have always dreamed of making, when thinking about this you find yourself feeling down and stressed. But let’s look at the positive side, you are able to provide yourself with food, water, and a roof over your head which is a lot more than what most people on this planet have. Positivity is key. Once you make this a consistent part of your life, you will begin to see the amount happiness that this alone has been shielding from you.
Allow yourself to become the glass half full type of person. Set a positive expectation for your future. What do you want to accomplish by this time next year? Two Years? Five years? Our mind is constantly seeking goals. Things that we want to accomplish during some duration of our life’s. We create goals everyday both big and small, we set them and then revise them over and over again until we reach our end result. By creating these goals for not only today, but for your future as well, you are allowing yourself to become more engaged with your own life and developing determination to make sure these goals are achieved. You will experience the excitement that comes when the completion is met. But you will have an everlasting happiness because of the pride that you will encounter with your self and your ability to complete something that has taken time and effort.
Savoring Life’s Joys
As I mentioned earlier, our lives are so rushed. We tend to believe that we can do 30 hours worth of work within a 24 hour period of time. By doing this, we fail to take the time to really enjoy the mundane things that life gives us. Time with your boyfriend/girlfriend, the dinner you prepared for yourself, the drive to work. These things are all filled with joy and beauty and because we have become so accustomed to them, we tend to take them for granite. Take some time each day to stop and take a deep breath, look at the world and people who surround you, and allow yourself to feel the joy that comes with these people or this scenery. Just by taking the time to truly enjoy the little moments, you may just find out that these end up becoming the big moments. And these moments might be the moments that help evolve your overall happiness.
Most people look at the word meditation and just dismiss it’s entirety because this is not something they practice. Meditation is something that only takes about 10-20 might uses of your overall day but the results from it last a life time. During this time you are able to come at complete peace with your mind body and soul. During this 10-20 minutes you are allowing yourself to release any stress, or thoughts that are negative to you and your body. You are allowing them to escape and welcoming the positive energy in. Allowing yourself to think clearer, become more creative, and most of all, become happier! If meditation is not something that you are used to practicing, try starting with a guided meditation; whether on YouTube or in a class. They will get you started into the right direction and will help you evolve into the best version of yourself.
Happiness is found while living in the moment at all times. Like I mentioned earlier, being able to put the past aside and to let the future prevail itself, although difficult, is necessary. So what is flow in this context? The ability to dedicate yourself fully to the task at hand. To allow yourself to be 100% in the zone and focused with what you are trying to achieve in that moment. Allowing yourself to do something challenging but also still in your range of skill level, which let’s you use your creativeness and also letting your mind fully absorb. Whether it’s a sport, an instrument, the gym, the office, or even writing; allow yourself to be fully indulged in whatever it may be that you are doing. There are two key components that you should follow in order to achieve this goal…
1. Stop multitasking! Allow yourself to be completely focused in each task that you are trying to achieve. By doing many things at once, your brain is constantly jumping from one topic to the next which ends up wasting more time than saving.
2. Find proficiency in something. This makes having flow in your life way easier. Once you can develop a set of skills, the flow will come. For example: You want to learn how to play guitar. You have the guitar in hand but have never played before. Obviously, you won’t be able to jam out to your favorite song the very first day, but by taking the time to learn the notes and chords, in no time you will have mastered not only your favorite song but many other songs as well. You will be able to pick up the guitar at any moment and play whatever comes to mind. Why? Because you focused and created your own flow.
Happiness is within all of us. And to some degree you might be happy.
But can you imagine the amount of happiness that you could still receive?