The Key to Happiness
If we all had to boil down our greatest hope to its essence, I think we would all agree that we would like to be happy. No matter what our other goals and dreams in life, deep down we all want to be happy. Pure and simple.
But what is happiness? How do you attain happiness? Is it possible to be happy all the time?
Happiness is an emotion, more accurately an emotional reaction to certain stimuli. Your child says Mama or Dada for the first time and suddenly your heart overflows with love. You get a raise at work or someone gives you the perfect gift and you feel respected, appreciated, loved, or loved.
You’ll notice that in each case, there is an outside stimulus that created each happy moment. Something happened and you became happy. More so, something you deemed positive occurred and you were pleased.
Myths about Happiness
Unfortunately, what goes up must come down. Like a sugar high, happiness does not last. That precious moment with your sweet baby may put you over the moon for an entire morning but I can guarantee that as soon as something unpleasant happens, your good mood will fade. A week, a month, ten years later, you won’t even be to recall how truly wonderful that experience felt. Yes, you’ll remember it fondly and it may even put a smile on your face but you will never gain back that absolutely joyful feeling.
It’s kind of a depressing thought. Every happy experience has an end. An expiry date so to speak. Perhaps, that’s what makes these fleeting moments that much more special. They are something to be embraced fully knowing that they aren’t permanent.
Yes, you can try to replicate that “good” feeling. We’ve all tried this before. Something or someone provides an experience we judge as positive. We convince ourselves that this thing or person makes us happy. Sometimes, we are so convincing in our delusion that we actually believe we need this thing to hold on to happiness, often long after it’s apparent that this is not working and certainly isn’t healthy.
Happiness Versus Contentment
No, the key to happiness is more about judgment than anything else. If you judge one experience positive and another negative, you will ride up and down the roller coaster of emotions. One day you’ll be up because of X, Y, or Z. The next day you’ll be deep in despair because the thrill did not last.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with following this natural flow so long as you understand that is exactly what it is. You embrace the good days and cherish the moments. Then, when the happiness fades remind yourself that “this too will pass” and more happiness is just around the corner.
Alternately, you can embrace each moment without judgment. It’s certainly not easy as humans are hardwired to make judgments. Still, when you do manage to stay open to each moment something interesting happens- Contentment and unlike happiness, contentment is sustainable.