Happiness Just Is.
If you want to be happy, be.
– Leo Tolstoy
Ever woken up in the morning and just said “nope” and rolled over, covering your head? Ever had days of the exact opposite; where you’re deliriously happy for no particular reason? Ever considered your happiness as being a mindset instead of an objective or side-effect?
I recently stumbled across a Facebook page called ‘The Happy Page’ and it asks its readers, what makes them happy and then illustrates it for them in cute little doodles. I found this to be such a great idea and really made me appreciate the little things in life that I take for granted on a daily basis, as well as made me ponder upon my own happiness.
Happiness, I’ve found, is an internal process. We often hear from people that they were happier when they were thinner or when they lived in a different place or this, that and the next thing; they’ll be happier when they get another break from work or when they afford more things. I do this and, on such regular occasion, that I forget that I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. We associate the feeling with a person or a thing and when that source of happiness leaves, we are left discontent. Stop it. Be your own little fountain of cheer!
Outside factors shouldn’t disrupt our zen; they do of course because we’re human. We experience the human condition and that, to a major extent, affects our level of happiness. Relationships, stress, money, responsibilities… The list goes on and on of what gets every single one of us down. But why do we let these things actually alter our mindsets?
I’m not going to be a complete hypocrite here. Anyone that knows me, knows that I have a fiery temper and that I don’t let go of things easily. I take things personally and I get hurt more often that I let on. I’m quite the sensitive soul if I’m to be honest. But frankly, it’s only to my own detriment; no one else’s. That little outburst I had a few weeks ago (OK it wasn’t little but that’s totally beside the point) upset me more than it did the other people involved and the only thing I could do to calm myself down was to remind myself “to let that shit go”. I’m not saying not to care, because that is a completely different ball game.
We just let the big things in our lives change our mental state of being without noticing the small amazing details of our lives that we don’t really think about. Take note next time you smile because it smells like Spring. Acknowledge the note of lightness in your heart when the sun comes out after a storm. We don’t realise how recognising the little happiness bubbles can become big ones; for example having my favourite Spanish breakfast (tostada de tomato con aceite) with a friend while listening to a man randomly singing in Spanish in the bar. It set a good mood for the whole day. It’s the little things in life, you know?
I really hate it when people tell me, “Yeah but it could be worse you know.” Yes, thank you Captain Obvious; I know it could be worse. I know that what I’m feeling is probably minuscule in comparison to someone’s else’s pain or worries. I know that, but it doesn’t take away from what I’m feeling. What I feel matters. And I am no way telling you otherwise. No one can you tell you how to feel or how much to feel. The problem is that, once we’ve felt and experienced the hurt, we tend to store it and it brews (subconsciously or not); stewing in its negative juices.
I guess what I am trying to tell you, dear reader, is that we shouldn’t let these things get to us for an extended period of time. We react to things; it’s normal! We’re human. We’re meant to react to situations. We are only, after all, just a bunch of chemicals squashed together with a soul and an explosion is bound to happen every now and then. What I’m trying to tell you here, Friend, is that if we controlled our emotions better and not be ruled by them (something I struggle with on a daily basis), we would find ourselves to be much happier creatures.
Recently I’ve been trying to reprogram my brain to think differently. That includes evaluating my reactions to different circumstances: Why did I react in anger to that situation? Why was I defensive in that other one? Why do I keep letting my pride get in the way of things? It’s not easy to dig deep and really look at yourself. But once I’ve done that, I find it easier to return my peace and within that state, being happy; a happiness ‘just because’ – with no connection to anyone or anything.
So how do we maintain our happiness? Well, it’s a state of mind really, isn’t it? We choose what influences us. We choose how to feel. It’s a difficult concept that I’ve had to come to on my own. I remember certain people telling me this and I remember thinking, “dude, shut the fuck up. You know nothing about what I’m going through.” And no, nobody does, really. My pain is different to your pain. And no amount of sunny disposition from others is going to change that. But you can.
Maybe you’re not ready for it though. Sometimes we hold onto the pain of something because we’re just not ready to receive the love that’s meant to replace it. And that’s ok. I wasn’t prepared for the longest time and I had to find it within myself without outside help. I sort of stumbled upon a different way of thinking by accident. I wasn’t really looking for it either. Somehow I just became aware of how my thought patterns were by chatting to a friend of mine. We were in the car and he mentioned about observing how he felt about something that I had said. And that was it! One catalyst later and here I am; figuring out how to maintain my happiness and sharing my thoughts with you.
There is no ‘How-To’ to follow in order to find happiness; this pursuit for it – like some sort of quick fix. You can’t really find it; it comes in its own time when you are open to it; when you want it. Happiness is not a destination. I’m pretty sure I read that on a sugar sachet somewhere but it couldn’t be any less true. It’s a moment you experience when you allow yourself to feel it. Travelling, for example, makes me happy but it’s not that I’m running towards or away from something; more like how it opens my mind and helps me know myself better. I’ve had to ask myself what makes me happy and answer, why?
I’m still trying to figure out the whole happiness thing: letting go of the big things, appreciating the little ones; watching how long I hold onto pain; observing what factors affect my happiness. All internal processes. All things that I can control. Happiness should not be a side-effect. Happiness just is and we can choose to have it, or not. In the end, after all, life is just what we make of it.
It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness. Poverty and wealth have both failed.
– Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard