“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist)
We all ask ourselves if we are truly happy and in most cases the answer is “no”. We are not happy with our jobs, with our car, with our cloths, with our weight and looks. We would like to live in a nicer house, have the newest smartphones and wear the newest cloths. While some think that earning a lot of money (being able to buy anything you want but not need) or grades in university, a title or prestige will make them happy others desperately keep looking for the secret of happiness, a guide or a recipe.
There are some fundamental problems.
First of all we do not know what we are actually looking for. Of course you may argue that not having a straight plan is also a good thing, and sure it is, but we are human beings in the 21st century. We have an overload of options and alternatives. We can be anyone we want to be and we can have everything we want to have. The important thing is to choose wisely.
We tend to focus on the less important things in life. We always compare ourselves to others and always want to be better than others. But only few people really see that materialistic things and our ego will not bring us any form of happiness. Yes, it might bring you joy for the moment but it will diminish within no time.
While we are focussing on getting all those things we think we need in order to be happy we are neglecting factors which really matter in life. We are programmed to function, to make careers and live for work. Not many poeple have the courage to step back and see what really matters.
Most people who do, only do so because they themselves reached their limits. They cannot carry the burdens anymore, loose themselves, their minds or their loved ones. At the point that you stay there with all the materialistic things you always wished for and no one around you to share your joy with, you might realize that love and family is worth more than anything you could ever buy for money. Less and less we invest in good friendships. We are always too busy to reply to or call someone. We follow career and forget to feel and enjoy. Forget to love and forget how it feels to be loved. We disconnect from people.
Why do I think that the poeple in our lives and love is more important than a crazy career or money?
The day you face difficulties, experience troubles and feel truely sad (which will happen!) a healthy netwerk of people you love and trust will make it easier to cope with. Only a few years ago I was one of those people focussing on my career and having pushed away everyone in my life. I tried to cope with problems myself, did not ask for help, fought. But some weights you cannot carry on your shoulder by yourself. We need people who can comfort us, help us, love us and support us in the worst situations.
Invest in those relationships because this is the most important coping strategy.
Another problem is our society and expectations (norms and rules). Everyone expects you to go a path which is appropriate. Waking up early, working hard, coming home late, sleeping and repeating. Seeing your partner and kids a few days a week for a few hours a day. This is the standard life of the average person. This is how a adult life looks like right? This is what is being taught to kids. Do not become a musician, a dancer or an archeologist because you would have to starve to death if you do so. Do not do what you love and what you are really good at, but what is the most logical thing to do. I mean who cares what your heart wants, as long as you have more money than you need. Children are not enouraged nowadays to follow their dreams, children are not taught the things they are good in but things you might need or things someone hundreds of years ago decided would be interesting to teach. Individuality is not welcome, it is ONE SIZE FITS ALL system.
So what is happiness and how do you become happy?
Happiness is not “feeling joy” and experiencing only positive things. Happiness is a choice, happiness is a mindset. Of course there will be ups and there will be downs all the time in your life but a stable foundation will help dealing with those. A foundation based on love, love for yourself and love for others.
Happiness is being in peace with your own mind. Not caring about people and their opinions. Being happy means to be surrounded by the person you love. It is loving and being loved unconditionally. It is the ability to be yourself in the presence of someone without being judged.
It is living in any place on this earth as long as you wake up every morning with a smile on your face, the excitement for the new day, the new challanges and adventures, and someone who is happy to see you shine.
The ultimate positive feeling is giving. Giving our time, our attention, our love, and our positivity to someone. Giving without expecting anything back. Texting a good morning or good night message for no other reason than really wishing someone a good morning or night. Telling someone what he or she means to you. Filling a home with so much love that your children will be thankful once they are grown-ups.
Being vulnerable and honest are two states in which you decide to give while knowing that the other person won’t give you anything back, and there is this chance of getting hurt… and still you keep that peace and love deep inside of you because happiness is not about what someone else can do for you but about what kind of a heart you have and do for others for no real reason but only for the sake of love.
Happiness IS a choice, it is nothing that just happens to you- create your own happiness, be the person you will be proud of once you are 90 years onld.
“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power
For those who want to read more about this topic: Life Lessons From a 95-year Old Lady