An Essay About Happiness

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It is the very thing we strive for as a race. Whether we decide to become a philanthropist or an armed bank robber, we are in it for the purpose of happiness and fulfillment.

But what does “happy” really mean? Before we try to figure that out, let’s look at how “MAN” defines it.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “happy” as follows:

Happy feeling or showing pleasure or contentment; having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with; (a person, arrangement, or situation) satisfied with the quality or standard.

We have defined what it is to be happy through our own limited beliefs. We are taught from childhood to look outside of ourselves for happiness. Simply looking at the dictionary definition proves that. The dictionary uses terms such as being satisfied with a person or situation, showing pleasure and contentment.

Those of us who aren’t happy search to find it; those of us who feel happy usually (just as the definition says) link the cause to what we have or possess, such as enough money in the bank, a house, a spouse, a job, having children. Some of us link the cause to the way we are treated by others by using false statements such as “he makes me happy.” Then there is what I like to call “entertainment happiness.” This is the feeling of happiness based on the level of excitement at a given moment. For example, a young man only feeling happy at some kind of social event with friends, but is miserable when he’s at home alone with himself.

From my observation, we, as a race spend our lives searching for this idea that seems outside of ourselves; we have to hunt it down by any means. Some call it elusive. Some call it overrated. Right?

In today’s digital world, it is becoming easier and easier to put on the “happy face” for everyone; you know, the art of pretending to be happy for pride’s sake, so our friends, family and co-workers won’t pity us, gossip about us, or even take pleasure in our pain. We must give the impression of happiness for our own protection. The problem is that too many of us spend a lifetime not aware of how un-happy we truly are. We show this happy face so often, we start to believe in something that is false.

“As crazy as it sounds, I am grateful for the years of depression I endured. I am glad that I was so aware of my pain and felt it so deeply. Otherwise, I would have never questioned anything. I would have never wondered the whys and hows of life. I would not know surrender the way I do today. I would not know patience and faith. I would not know LOVE if it were not for the emotional despair I experienced.”

Let’s prove this so-called definition wrong shall we? The first definition is a “happy feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” A happy “feeling” is not the same as being happy. Feelings are fleeting from moment to moment are they not? We can feel happy one day and then feel miserable the next day. “Showing pleasure or contentment” is not the same as being happy. It is just another temporary feeling that we express sometimes. The second definition is” having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with a person, arrangement or situation.” Oh, so I get it! We can’t experience this idea of happiness until something comes to us, or happens for us! I mean, really? Is that fair? Is that what we were put here for? Are we here to just wait for happiness to come to us? Or are we here to hunt happiness down and step on as many toes as necessary to capture it? And last, the thirs definition is “satisfied with the quality or standard.” Again. this teaches us to look outside of ourselves, which is the very reason why happiness seems so elusive.

There was a period in our long evolution when we had to first survive. Kill, eat, start fires, make tools, build shelters, kill, eat again and so on. The idea of “happiness” was non-existent; not yet a part of our make-up. At some point this idea showed its face in the consciousness of humanity, and became the driving force behind all things positive and negative. thos of us who commit so-called sinful deeds are all done in the name of achieving this. The only difference with those of us that do evil is simple ignorance; a belief in the survival of the fittest mentality, therefore not caring who we hurt in the process of our quest to be happy.

What is happiness to you? Are you happy? What does your personal happiness depend on? Are your answers truly based on your beliefs or the beliefs of others and society? Is there anyone that you are trying to please? Even on a subconscious level?

We sometimes make decisions based on the beliefs and actions of those around us. We go to college to please our parents. We want to have babies because all of our friends are doing it (on a subconscious level, that’s trying to please someone else) and we want to “fit” in. We take jobs we hate for the money, because we are under the illusion that the paycheck will make us happy. Or, we say we want to do something but fret over how much recognition we get. For example, a woman wants with all her heart to be a singer. She says it makes her happy, but she’s actually un-happy because she doesn’t have a recording contract. What does her happiness depend on? Is it singing or fame? If she wants to sing, she should just sing every chance she gets. It’s perfectly fine to want a contract, but should wanting something interfere with her happiness? Get my drift?  As rewarding as some life events are, they will eventually pass and so will happiness if that’s what it’s based on.

There are internal and external factors that contribute to blocking true lasting happiness. this may not be all of them but here are a few:

Ignorance: of one’s self and what life is truly about. Thinking we have to “go for self” and disregard all others, chasing money, fame or attention. Having a lack of one’s own belief system and living to please those around us, and not realizing we are living this way. Ignorance of the inner-self, living life solely based on the external world.

Not present: in the moment; keeping the mind focused on past events and too much fretting and worry over future events. “I can’t stand my ex! He cheated on me!” “Am I ever going to get married?” “Will I ever make enough money?” Are we suffering enough yet?

Mass Media/Entertainment: taking hold of our spirit! The more TV we watch, the more challenging it is for lasting happiness. We are bombarded with programs and commercials sending the subliminal message that we are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart or rich enough. We can have closets full of clothes and shoes; the latest technical gadgets, but one TV commercial will convince us that there is no way we have enough crap to satisfy our needs.

Entertainment seems harmless, but how often do we go out to clubs and social events to take our minds off things (put on the happy face for the world?) Taking our minds off things doesn’t make those things go away. Dealing with our pain, as difficult as that may be is actually a healthier route to long term happiness.

Once a certain maturity level is reached, we stop looking to the outside world for our validation, our beliefs and decisions. We start to look within ourselves, learning who we are and living accordingly. It is not meant for us to wait for happiness or go out and capture it. It is meant for us to discover ourselves; and realize that happiness doesn’t come to us following an event occurring in life. Happiness doesn’t come to us at all. It is already inside us and must be CLAIMED! True happiness is lasting. It moves through life with us. We choose it over and over again regardless of circumsatnces, emotions and thoughts. We are happy whether or not we have everything we want at the moment. We are happy even when others talk about us or try to harm us.

“He, who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”              

                                                                       Carl Jung

Once we learn to look within and live according to what we discover, we claim our happiness. We begin doing the work we love, we stop chasing things and we stop living to cater to the rules and beliefs of another. We find gratitude in just being alive. We are happy just because and that’s that! We spread it everywhere we go. There is no more complaining about the way life should be. We see what happiness really is. It isn’t necessarily something fun or exciting. Happiness is just that thing we claim because it is our birth right.

So have we all claimed what’s ours yet? What are we waiting for?

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