How Do I Find Happiness/What is Happiness to me?
Oh happiness, the carrot that is dangled in front of us all that we endlessly chase, day in and day out. It is so engrained in our lives that it is even written into our country’s Declaration of the Independence. Our whole life is essentially a quest for
happiness, our jobs, our higher education, our creation of families, our travels, etc. It is the quintessential motivator. So how do we define happiness? More importantly, how do we experience it? Does everyone interpret happiness the same way? What do you have to get in order to be happy or is already within us? For some it is defined by what we possess, some believe it is purely chemical, some believe it can be purchased, and some believe that it is only dependent on certain conditions.
In a study by Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert, he measured the happiness of people a year after winning the lottery and people a year after losing their legs. Now, most would postulate that the person who won the lottery would be much happier than the paraplegics, when in reality their happiness levels are the same. What I am trying to say is that there is a difference between natural happiness and synthetic happiness. Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted or are pleasantly surprised by life’s moments; synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted by viewing things through a different lens. Synthetic happiness is just as real and enduring as the natural happiness that can happen throughout your life. Trying to define happiness for yourself can get you one step closer to attaining it. Happiness is something that you can create for yourself; it is the acceptance of the here and now, gratitude for the company that you keep, getting lots of sunshine, and knowing and embracing your authentic self. Happiness is not the absence of problems and challenges, it is learning the ability to cope with them. We have WITHIN US the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experiences.
How do I continue to be kind in a world that sometimes feels like it doesn’t deserve it?
Being kind and “good” in a world that can be harsh, mean, and cruel can be a downright struggle at times…and that can be an understatement. This is something that you have to consistently work on throughout your life, something you have to put in effort to preserve. To be kind and good, to offer help to those who may not deserve it, is something that, if aligned with your personal views, can be very powerful. The thing about offering help and giving out second chances is that not everyone was ready for the first one. Two of the most important things to learn is empathy (what it would be like to be in someone else’s situation) and how to set and stick to boundaries with people. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do for someone when you don’t know what to say or how to help would be to just ask them “How can I help? How can I support you right now?” Maybe it is just that I believe that good people can sometimes do bad things but it is something that keeps me rooting for the good and kind in everyone.
If you are struggling with any life transition issues, seeking a good therapist to help you work things out and sort your feelings could be instrumental in increasing your coping capabilities.