It’s almost too much of a cliche that with today being International Happiness Day that I would write about it. But, seriously, how could I not?
What do we know about happiness?
We know there are no easy answers to finding happiness.
We know happiness is a subjective feeling that cannot be measured objectively.
We know one person’s experience of happiness cannot be experienced by someone else.
We know that no one has the secret to happiness.
We know that happiness is a transitory feeling.
We know that seeking happiness is one of life’s biggest challenges.
What can we do to be more happy?
Ah, now that’s the question we should be asking.
Because I can talk to you and understand what happiness looks like for you. And I can help you figure out what steps you might need to take to achieve this state of bliss.
As long as you understand that it’s a transitory thing, and once you achieve the thing you think is meant to bring happiness, which will need to be replaced by something else.
Which begs the question of why are we trying to achieve anything at all?
Indeed, this is why many religious folk will tell you that attaining anything material in this world only leads to sadness, because you always want the next thing. I understand this, and philosophically agree with this. However, day to day practise also tells me that happiness is achievable.
So you’re going to tell me?
For sure, why would I hide good insights and knowledge?
We know that when we experience momentary happiness e.g. laughter or receiving a gift, this helps us to feel good. It’s momentary, but it’s potent. Clearly it’s not limited to what I’ve suggested so whatever the moment is, it needs to be genuinely felt.
What I mean is that we can purposefully experience lots of small moments of happiness depending on what drives us.
We know that when there is a flow between moments of feeling good – a purposeful flow – this increases the long lasting positive feelings we have too. That is, I can organise and craft my day, my week, my month in such a way that allows me to experience genuine positivity and happiness on a regular basis because of how I choose to adapt my lifestyle.
This is far from easy, and takes time to craft. Also, this can be very volatile as what may bring happiness at one moment in your life may change at any time depending on what’s going on in your life.
We know that if you can find meaning in what you do – be that in work, with family, with community, with friends – this creates more opportunities to feel good about what you offer and what you receive. This is a tough one, mostly because we don’t act so mindfully in pretty much any area of our lives. Some people do, and that’s what allows them to identify and show what happiness looks like. Most people, though, will only really be able to affect and find meaning with one part of their life. And that’s the challenge right there, to help people find ways to experience happiness and positivity in more aspects of their lives.
Also, for most people this type of thinking and action is a luxury. The thinking goes that if you can find meaning across various parts of life it’s either because you have the financial wealth to not be concerned about things going right or wrong, of you make a conscious decision to become a person of religion and denounce all material things in this world.
There are so many more things which need to be written about to truly appreciate the wealth, breadth and depth of study in this field. Physical health, nutrition, financial health, societal health, mental health, mindset, attitude, organisations, institutions, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, traditions, culture, empathy, and many more things all play a part in how we experience happiness and positivity.
It is so very attainable and achievable. I certainly haven’t got it mastered. But I’m enjoying the journey of discovery.