The most common way to think about happiness is of the feeling we have when we are smiling and laughing, however there is more to it. Happiness is the sense of contentment with the mind, when we are at peace with it. And this doesn’t have to depend on the external circumstances being favourable, funny or happy. We have the opportunity to experience it regardless of those external forces.
A good example is an act of kindness. Regardless if we are receiving it or doing it towards someone else there is this deeper feeling of satisfaction that comes with it. It doesn’t need to be recognised, but if we see the benefit of our doing it brings us happiness. We don’t need to laugh or smile, but still ultimately we are content and have a sense of fulfilment.
What other things leave you with a general feeling of contentment?
I know this all sounds a bit “fuzzy” and abstract, but it is so important for the quality of life we have. What is the point of any possessions if at the end you are not happy (and healthy)? It is a problem very easily recognisable in some of the most successful figures in our society (look at hollywood as a stereotypical example). I don’t mean that possessions mean you cannot be happy, but I am trying to point that with them or without you can be and it is something to develop as we will see in a minute.
(Getting weird now, but bear with me.) So many of us can be good at being kind to others, but not necessarily half as kind to ourselves. What does that mean? I don’t mean about not being kind to yourself because you didn’t buy a new pair of shoes, got that nice dinner or didn’t treat yourself to a nice trip. What I mean is how we talk to ourselves internally.
Some (hand-raised) really batter themselves in their mind. If you think about it, how would someone be able to experience true happiness if they are constantly hateful to themselves? If you try a sweet cake for example and there is something bitter in, that bitterness would overpower all the sweetness. It is the same with us when we are overly judgemental and demanding with ourselves.
We need to find a way to be kinder, a bit softer and gentler to ourselves as well, not just to others. The external focus is very natural but maybe if we look inwards it would be easier to see what prevents our happiness. What if it was us and how we talk to ourselves?
We all think we understand what happiness means. There are things that when we do we feel fundamentally content and satisfied, such as being kind to others. Where it often fells apart though is when we talk to ourselves judgementally and unforgivingly thinking that this is good because we are giving “constructive feedback” to build on. Being aware of the negatives is healthy, but overdoing it is as poisonous as not doing it. So we need to be a bit softer and forgiving, to let ourselves be at peace with our mind and as a consequence create a better environment for happiness. Apart from the acts of kindness towards others, what else gives you a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction?