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Obsessed with happiness

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Obsessed with happiness7 min read

Have you considered why we are so obsessed with happiness as a society?

There are thousands of courses on how to be or increase happiness out in the world.

What has caused this explosion of desire to be happy?

Why are there so many people today who aren’t happy?

Cause and Effect

Life has progressively become more frantic and overwhelming. Lifestyles are rushed, the pressure is piled on to succeed and survive, communities are divided and spread thin, and the rules that have been punted for a long time are just not cutting it anymore.

To be fair, they weren’t really cutting it for eons. In the past few decades, we have collectively been coming to terms with the fact that what we were convinced life was about isn’t actually what life is about.

We are collectively questioning the systems in place and whether existing as a perpetual slave throughout your life really is something to aspire to.

And we are collectively accepting that we need more peace and pleasure and happiness in our individual lives and in our world.

And as we have prayed for these requests, the solutions are being created. There are, today, more happiness and wellness coaches, and more happiness courses, and more focus on improving the happiness index of employees, students, and citizens. There are many websites and social media who regularly publish feel good, uplifting, and happy news. More of our world wants to live in a more harmonious and less stressful way.

The world is waking up and realising that happiness doesn’t come from strife, and we are collectively seeking better ways of realising this.

Where did the happiness go?

Perhaps that still doesn’t answer why the need for happiness exists in the first place.

What happened to our happiness? Where did it go? Were we ever happy?

I will propose that it isn’t just that we have become sadder over the years. I mean we have, but it’s also that we were a blissfully ignorant species for a long time. And now, we are collectively waking up and noticing that we haven’t been living our fullest lives, and that there are other – sometimes very different – people living alongside us on this planet, and they are also seeking to be happy and live more fulfilled lives, and that we can be more friendly with the environment itself. We realise that life can be much better than we were led to believe, and we can certainly be much happier than we are being.

We have not even begun to reach our pinnacle as a species. Everyday more is being created and discovered and built and done. There is so much more life to live, fun to enjoy, and freedom to experience.

And we look around and see that more of the world’s people – yet comparably still a miniscule percentage of the global populace – have sought and found ways to enjoy more of life and be happier. Many enjoy wealthier lives in all aspects, from luxury to opportunities to relationships. And we look at these people from near and afar and we all want to experience the happiness that they seem to exude.

And, so, it is also that more people nowadays have realised that the sky really is the limit and that we all deserve to experience that contentment.

human meditating on wooden deck at sunrise

Meditation – photo by Jared Rice

Finding my happiness

The secret you will find is that for the 8 billion odd people alive on this planet right now, there are approximately 8 billion different experiences of happiness.

The question you want to ask yourself on the regular is, “am I on track with what makes me happy?”

Before you can answer that, let’s explore exactly what “happiness” is.

You should have realised by now, simply through the act of being alive, that happier situations are more preferred than unhappier ones. It goes further. The feeling of happiness is experienced when you’re doing something that you want to do, or when you’re with people you want to be with. Happiness is an indicator of how much you are pointed towards your personal preferences.

The more your life conforms to your preferences, the happier you will feel. The more life conforms to anyone’s preferences, the happier they will feel. But here’s a little caveat that you must accept; what makes you happy doesn’t necessarily make anyone else happy, and vice versa.

So, does that mean two people in the exact same situation can’t both be happy? Of course not. Two or more people in the exact same situation can experience whatever they’re predominantly programmed to experience. They could both be in their personal happy spaces, or they might be in two completely different moods all together.

A very obvious example when some people might be happy, and others might not be,  is the case of a tired parent and an energised child. The child may be buoyantly happy, seemingly regardless of the environment, while the adult might be frustrated or sad in the same environment.

The obvious difference is that the child is looking at life through their clearer, fun flavoured vision, while adults generally look at the world through their filters of serious jadedness.

To put it more bluntly, adults, in general, see life through a veil of worry and trauma (and progressive wonder why they worry so much) while children, in general, see life through a veil of excitement and possibility.

This leads us to a key attribute of happiness. It should not be a reaction to a situation but a pro-action to how you want to experience your life. The more you heal your mental hurts, and release useless thought patterns, you can meditate yourself back into a freer, clearer, lighter mindset not unlike the mind that saw the world when you were a child. And when you’re clear minded, it’s easier to notice when you’re on track with your life goals and when you’re not by noticing what your emotional state is.

And when the answer is “yes, I on track with what makes me happy”, keep doing what you’re doing and follow the path to even greater happiness.

And when the answer is “no, I’m not happy so I must be off track”, take stock and do what you can to refocus yourself towards your personal happy path.

Doing this is as simple as thinking about what makes you happy and then acting in a way to realise that happiness.

It’s not always easy. You may not be able to do this in the middle of a heated argument or in the middle of your work day or when you’re far too frustrated to think of anything mildly satisfying. That’s okay. Learn to be okay with riding the anger waves and the sadness waves and the boredom waves and the frustration waves until they subside.

Once they have subsided, it’s easier to find the happiness waves. And with a little bit of practice, you’ll ride these waves longer and longer and longer.

What do you want?

It may be a useful exercise to write down a list of everything that makes you happy.

Don’t censor yourself. Just free-flow everything that comes to mind. Songs. Plants. Animals. People. Places. Memories. Desires. Aspirations. Anything that brings you some joy.

This list will probably be ongoing as you remember more things and you discover more things.

From this list, you can make a playlist of your happy shows or happy songs. You can make a list of the people you may reach out to when you’re feeling playful. And the people you may reach out to when you’re need a boost. And the memories that you can summon to mind whenever you want a little pick-me-up.

The more often you use this list to remind you of what you really want in your life, the things that make you happy, the easier it will be to find your happiness even when things are falling apart around you. You see, the better your emotional state, the better you can engage with your daily life. And the more you focus yourself towards what you want, the better chance of you actually experiencing what you want.

Happiness is the best emotional state you can be in. But don’t pressure yourself to always be happy either. Allow yourself your wobbles, but don’t get stuck in the wobbles either. Wobble and find your way, and wobble and find your way.

Your happiness list is simply a tool you can use to help you find your way whenever you wobble.

A final answer

Why are we more obsessed with happiness than ever before?

Because we are realising more and more that by following our personal trail of happiness, we are being led towards the life we most want.

Follow the happier path. It will lead to more happies.

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