“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
– Frederick Keonig
What is happiness?
We all know the sensation of it in our bodies. We know what it feels like to be in a state of happiness. We understand the difference between being happy, and being in an altogether different state. We crave its presence and feel we deserve its existence in our lives.
But what exactly is it?
Some things in life are simply undefinable, unexplainable without using subjectivity to support an understanding of them.
We all have ideas about the things that “make” us happy.
For some, happiness results from spending time with family. For others, happiness is the result of contributing to society. For many others, happiness comes from sitting at home relaxing with a book or watching TV.
What’s more is that the things that make us happy are not static. What once made us happy in the past may not create the same feeling in us now. If we’re really being honest, what made us happy 5 minutes ago might not even touch us in the same way now. Others can help guide us in discovering what truly makes us happy, like if you talk to a therapist.
Though regardless of how it comes to be, if happiness is what we crave, the questions we have to try and answer are whether we can cultivate happiness – this unexplainable feeling we each intimately have come to know, and how we can achieve its presence in our lives regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.
How To Be Happy With What You Have
Step One: Stop defining what has to happen for you to be happy
One of the main reasons we don’t maintain a stable sense of that unexplainable feeling we all so deeply want to feel the presence of in our lives is the fact that we continuously condition it upon things happening in our lives.
By the very act of saying and living as if you will be happy when some event or circumstance appears in your life, you are creating a distinction between being happy and not being happy that becomes an absolute reality.
Have you ever noticed how young children don’t need anything to make them feel joyful?
Everyone has basic needs that have to be met in order to create the possibility of overall well-being. Babies cry when they need their diapers changed, when they’re hungry, when they feel pain, when they need warmth, etc.
Outside of these basic needs, feeling happy – content – satisfied – is a state that is characterized only by subjective ideas about what it is.
As we grow up we’re taught through imitation and suggestion by others that happiness is something we should crave. We don’t see that by the very act of craving something, we create an actual lack of whatever it is we say we want.
So long as I identify circumstances in which I will be happy, I cannot cultivate a sense of content with where I am in life. I will forever be chasing the very thing I crave.
Step Two: Become Happiness
“If you ask a tree how he feels to know that he’s spreading his fragrance and making people happy, I don’t think a tree looks at it that way. I am just like that, and it is just my nature to be like this.”
Happiness is a way of life. It is an attitude.
I want you to think about your current situation, the circumstances that surround your life in this moment. Now think about everything you think of as “good” or “bad” in your life.
Here’s the very simple truth.
You are exactly the way you look at the events that are occurring in your life. The way you see a circumstance as good or bad, as beautiful or ugly, is who you are. That is the true secret to finding yourself, and to transforming your entire reality.
We take for granted that we know ourselves.
In reality, we are how we give our attention to the things that happen in our lives.
There are always multiple ways of looking at something, and we each bring a different type of attention to the discussion of any given topic. The fact that we each have differing viewpoints about what brings happiness is direct proof of this. All we share in terms of what happiness means is the common feeling and sensation that comes with the word.
Some of the ways we bring attention that rob us of feeling happy are:
- Comparing ourselves with others
- Choosing to see what’s bad about a situation rather than the potential for learning from it
- Thinking about how things could be better rather than worse
- Dwelling on past events we identify with negatively
Becoming the happiness you seek is about understanding what type of attention you bring and realizing that there is a possibility of transforming your relationship to the things that happen in your life. It is a real work, it isn’t something you turn on and have it be present forever. Bringing an attitude of happiness to your situation requires constant effort, constantly remembering that you ARE your attitude.
But ultimately, if happiness is the thing we all say we want, what’s more important than working towards it?
Step Three: Understanding That What Goes Up Must Come Down
The third aspect of cultivating an attitude of happiness within yourself stems from an understanding of one of the truths about life. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is fixed. Things are always evolving and degenerating both outside of us and inside of us.
Accepting that our emotional states aren’t constant, but rather are continuously changing is one of the keys to staying separated from the consequences that come with all negative emotions.
If you can begin to faithfully understand that life flows in a pattern characterized by movement upwards and downwards, you can learn to find a balance and happiness in this complete movement of change that is always happening inside of you.
Simply remembering that feeling hopeless, lonely, angry, frustrated, anxious, and sad are never permanent because life is always changing and how we feel about life is always changing is the only healthy method for staying separated from negativity that we feel.
Life is too short to waste it with an attitude that hurts. Choose to see beauty and opportunity in everything that comes your way, regardless of your circumstances, and you will become the very happiness you want to feel.
You have everything you need to be happy right now.