The Myth of Happiness
For many of us, the goal is to be happy. After all, who wants to feel sad all of the time? The truth is, there is no way to be happy all of the time. If anything, we will be happy maybe 50 percent of our life. So, why do so many of us spend our time chasing things that are supposed to make us happy, only to end up miserable and unfulfilled? This is a topic that has interested me deeply, as I have experienced sudden influxes of happiness followed by a sudden sadness.
What is happiness, and why are we so obsessed with it? If you think about it, if we are happy all of the time, we would have no reason to change. Evolve. Go outside of our comfort zone. We would simply become complacent and uninterested in anything that forces us to transform our ways of action and thinking.
Looking Beyond Emotions
Happiness is, in many ways, a myth. To chase it is a waste of time because it is simply a state of mind. You choose to be happy; happiness does not happen to you. In my life, I have found that if I am going to be in a bad mood, there is no way around it. It is my decision to be in a negative state of mind. However, if I wake up and make the conscious decision to enjoy my day, I do. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? So many people feel like happiness is out of their control because we are conditioned to think certain items, people and experiences are supposed to provide us with limitless joy. Take your significant other, for example. Many people depend on their spouse for happiness, which more often than not ends up in a break-up or divorce. Why? Because happiness comes from inside of you — never from something external.
This can be a hard pill to swallow for many people, including myself. You grow up thinking happiness is something that can be achieved when in reality, you have to cultivate it within yourself. So, how do you do this? For me, happiness all came when I started living for myself. However, I had to first recognize — and accept — that I was making decisions based on what I thought everyone wanted me to do. This can be difficult to come to terms with. However, once you do, your whole life changes.
How to Know If You Are Truly Happy
You may think you are happy, but what you may actually be feeling is a sense of belonging; a sense that you are following the status quo. However, following the status quo does not equal happiness. This is a concept that I had to learn on my own when working the typical nine to five job made me feel as if I was wasting my life away. In my head, I was conforming to what the world had taught me. But, when I looked outside of myself, I realized I was living the life of someone else. My decisions were not mine. So, how do you move past this? By challenging your beliefs. By going beyond society’s expectations. By stripping everything you know down to the bone and evaluating whether or not it truly brings you joy.
If it doesn’t bring you joy — eliminate it. While this may sound easier said than done, I can honestly say that until you do, you will always live with a chip on your shoulder, as if this life wasn’t built by you. Taking control of your life means defining what happiness means for you as a complex and constantly individual. And as we all know, all of us have our own passions, hobbies and interests. What brings you happiness is not necessarily going to bring happiness to another person — and that’s okay! What’s important is that you look inward to discover what happiness means to you.
Seeing Beyond the Veil
In our world today, advertising teaches us that consumerism can give us the happiness we are so desperately seeking. It wasn’t until I worked in marketing (for three years) that I realized it was all a lie. Everything we’re fed is just a tactic to get us to spend our money. It’s sad, but it’s true. There is a whole industry based on tricking us into thinking buying stuff will make us happy. Unfortunately, this is a complete lie. Nothing —- and nobody — can make us happy, but ourselves. While this may strike you as terrible, I view it as liberating. Because once you understand and accept this, you no longer rely on outside entities to make you happy. You now realize that the source of happiness, is you.
The way you feel about things is under your control. Your thoughts dictate how you are going to feel throughout the day. If you think today is going to be terrible, it will be. If you think it will be great, it will be. Everything you think is going to be translated to your outside reality. This means that any emotion you feel, is technically on you. There is no one to blame but your own brain. I’m not trying to be offensive, I’m just expressing what I have experienced in my own life. Until you accept this fact, you will always live as if someone owes you an apology. But that apology will never come because it can only truly come, from you.