On The Pursuit Of Happiness
“And they lived happily ever after.” I have heard this so many times growing up and always wondered what that would feel like. And I still wonder. Is it even possible for someone to live happily ever after? My quest to find answers to these questions led me to read multiple books on the subject and come up with some, if not all answers around the subject.
Most of us look on the outside to fulfill the need for happiness without realizing that happiness is actually a state of mind and can be generated within. Science says that when you are happy, you are better at your job. Happiness contributes to positive intelligence. The higher your positive intelligence, the better you are at your performance.
From childhood we are trained to buy into the big lie: The IF-THEN model of happiness. We go about being happy the wrong way. We always tell ourselves that when we become something, we will be happy or when we get married/find the perfect person we will be happy or when we pass that exam we will be happy, when we get that job we will be happy. What happens we get to those things? Sure, we are happy for a little while but before long we are busy chasing the next best thing and telling ourselves that same lie that once we get there, we will be happy.
There are some who also tie happiness to money (A very interesting bunch). Based on a concept called Hedonic Adaptation, Happiness actually plateaus at a certain level. A study done in United States show that after you reach a certain income bracket, money beyond that doesn’t matter. Money might be great but does little to increase your happiness levels. The lesson – don’t think money is the answer. Yes, you need a certain amount to live a comfortable life but beyond that, it does little to contribute to your actual happiness. Chasing wealth like it’s happiness is elusive. It’s like chasing the horizon. As soon as you get there, the line extends beyond you.
One way to get to an inner state of happiness is by following a concept called THE REVERSE GAP advocated by Mind Valley founder and one of the best personality development leaders, Vishen Lakhiani. Based on this concept, we should embrace being happy in the ‘Now’ and disconnect happiness from our goals or income. Instead of tying our happiness to the future, think about the past and how far you have come and improved as an individual: the new lessons you have learned and the new growth you have experienced.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Although happiness is a single word it can be divided into 3 major categories. When we take happiness and break it apart, we understand it better and get to it faster.
SEE ALSO: 4 Ways To Find Your Peace
The different types of happiness
The first kind of happiness is happiness from Experiences. This could come from talking to an old friend, finding the love of your life or going away on a family vacation. It produces a chemical called Dopamine which is also called ‘the feel-good chemical’. That being said, this kind of happiness is basically short-lived.
The second kind of happiness and something that stays longer comes from Growth. Notice how you feel when you finish a difficult session in the gym or ace that meeting that you have worked so hard for. Many of us feel that learning and happiness have no connection whatsoever. Take for instance when an infant and notice how they enjoy learning new things. The joy on their face when they first learn to walk or read is divine. However, once they start going to school, a gap is created between learning and happiness. Learning gets tied to getting good grades and a high paying job. It gets tied to a goal instead of a pure emotion of joy that is experienced by an infant. This could also be a contributing factor to the fact that we learn around 50% of our whole life’s learning between the ages of 0 to 5.
The third and most satisfying kind of happiness is from meaning. It’s the happiness we get by serving others. Take parenthood for example. Parents go through a tough time in the first few years of childbirth. From sleepless nights to changing dirty diapers life seems to feel like an unending series of chores and duties. But no parent would trade this experience for anything else.
So ask yourself are you experiencing regular awe or a-ha moments in your life? Are you growing on a day to day basis? Are you in a job where you actually feel like you are serving others or do you do any voluntary work of service?. When you stack all of this together, something amazing happens. Not only do you live your life at a greater level of happiness, your health actually improves. Believe it or not, you start looking younger.
Happiness is our innate nature but as we grow, we tie it to our goals, finance, and ‘if-thens’. Accepting the world as it is doesn’t mean you do not do anything to make it better. You will do it because it is your path in life, not because if you succeed you will be happy. It is important to be ambitious and have a vision for the future but it’s also very important to be happy in the now. In the instant you accept your life with all the problems you think you have as perfect, happiness comes to you.
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