IN SEARCH OF HAPPINESS

Happiness will not be found in objects, like cars or  cash and it won’t be found in people either. 

by Wandra Chenault, MSW.                                                          

Mama Sez Wisdom

When we’ve found our happiness, we’ve found our balance, purpose and meaning of life. In this complex world, finding happiness can seem confusing and maybe even elusive. There are so many definitions of happiness which can leave us with endless questions. Early on we can think  happiness boils down to one detail that if missing we won’t have happiness for example the right career, partner or home.  When we find ourselves unhappy despite these things, some of us begin to search to find the answers to happiness with a download from the internet.   As we run out of answers, we wonder if  happiness will just cost more money and those of us who have that money realize the answer to that question is “No.” 

The 19th century writer Khalil Gibran said, “That which has given you sorrow is from where you will get your joy.”  This answer sounds painful and some of us expect that happiness will shield us from pain – people who know happiness know this is not true. 

It’s a process to learn  that happiness comes from  where we place our values—things that really matter and, distractions often interfere with our sense of happiness, directing our attention to what seems attractive to us but things that have no lasting value.  

Although it may be difficult to accept and a simplistic answer,   on some level, happiness is a decision  which one commits — a state of mind which will take conscious effort to sustain.  Happiness is not a state of constant euphoria but rather a state of committed mental homeostasis. 

Happiness requires a bit of constant acceptance and gratitude where there will be gradations from time to time-happiness doesn’t exclude times of grief,  sorrow or sadness. In  these times it is rather peace we seek to achieve. Happiness doesn’t relieve us from action, advocacy,  or diligence but happiness supports our internal strength, even  through struggle and challenging times. 

Sometimes many of us equate objects to happiness, like cars, homes, bank accounts and even objects of  affection, like people. If we rely on these things for happiness, then we will have no control over our happiness and they may bend it and shape it in a way we won’t be able to recognize. No, instead we should be in control of our happiness and how we bend and shape it to receive them. If they leave we can adjust: we can leave an empty unfilled space, close the space or fill the space. 

Research is bringing neuroscience into the picture. Large pockets of society are increasingly unhappy, depressed and anxious. Research is suggesting a few key issues. One issue relates to money and $75k is about as happy as one gets because basic needs and some cushy stuff makes us happier but that income reaches a plateau in relationship to our “happiness.”  

So why are so many people after wealth and power?  It’s possible that the more one gets the greater the urge to increase one’s power and wealth in order to reach a sense of happiness – which is never achieved but seems always in reach, with seeking more of the same. 

Not being happy doesn’t equate  to being depressed. Not feeling happy does indicate that you need to fine tune your life and evaluate what could increase happiness. Not being happy is a common concern for lots of folks  today.

Money homes, cars, even partners bring short term increases in measurements of happiness-like a mint or candy that brings a burst of flavor but then dissolves. Measuring, comparing  and contrasting your accomplishments, achievements, possessions and social status with others can drive up feelings of unhappiness by inflating the value of these external markers with your own.

Happiness does not exclude ambition achievement or desire. Happiness also doesn’t mean settling for less. What it does mean is understanding and deciding on  what we  as individuals want,  value and deserve. What can influence or skew our personal decision or choice is others’ ideas and social media has been seen to play a part in that, leading us to  feelings of unhappiness.

The take home is that we must create and define for ourselves what happiness is and  the more we know about ourselves the easier that will become. 

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