The Hunt For Happiness
Everyone is obsessed with their search for true happiness. We spend our days questioning every aspect of our lives. Am I happy with my job? Am I happy with my relationship? Am I happy with my paycheck? Am I happy with where I am living? Am I happy with who I am? Am I happy with how I look? Am I happy in life? Are other people happier than me? How do I become happier?
Through media we are on a daily basis fed with all kinds of advice for how to reach happiness, how to become a happier person, how to find the life that makes us happy, how to find out if we are not happy enough and what we should be doing about it. Articles with the intention to help and guide us towards a better path in life, where we can be forever happy and fulfilled (in a similar way, media is also guiding us towards the ‘perfect body’, and lets us know which toothpaste we should be using, and what kind of cell phone we should be having). Our environment encourages us to constantly question ourselves and our happiness.
One of the youngest branches within Psychology is Positive psychology, which main purpose is to teach us to focus on the good in life, and grow through our strengths towards a more satisfactory life. We should focus on what is working, focus on gratitude, resilience, positive thoughts, pleasure and flow, instead of focusing on the negative, and the things which are not working so well. What makes us happy in life, and how long does happiness last?
While I am sure Positive psychology has a lot of good and useful ideas to add to the world of psychology in general (which is sometimes referred to as negative psychology), and I do believe that a positive state of mind in general is a very helpful tool, and focusing on our strengths instead of our weaknesses is a good thing; there are aspects of it which also fuels the question of happiness.
So here is an idea: maybe our main purpose in life is not to find happiness, maybe happiness is not a way of life, maybe it’s an emotion, a state, just like fear, sadness, and anger. A state that is passing, coming and going over and over again across time. Maybe being satisfied is not about being happy all the time with every aspect of your life. Because if you think about it, don’t we stop being happy the moment we start to question our happiness? The moment we start hunting this happiness we are told we should be feeling, how can we be satisfied? When we make life in to one big hunt, how can we appreciate what we already have?
As animals, our purpose is to survive and reproduce. As humans, we also get to reflect and think about how we are not just surviving, but also living. However, in order to survive we need all those emotions that we have. Without fear we will probably die, and without sadness we are likely to end up in weird social situations. Emotions are states meant to help us, meant to be felt, they have a purpose, also the unpleasant kinds. Maybe happiness is just another emotion, meant to be felt at times, meant to be enjoyed, but not meant to be our main goal in life. Maybe we can be fully satisfied without being happy all the time. Isn’t satisfaction more about accepting and being at peace with yourself and your surroundings?
I am not saying we need to accept everything in our lives, and that there are not things we need to change, or that there are not some relationships and jobs and similar which are better for us than others. Sometimes we do realize that we are not in the right place, or that we are not doing the right thing, and so it makes sense to change the situation. However, sometimes maybe it’s okay to just be satisfied with what we have, to let go of that constant stress created from always questioning and always doubting. Maybe it’s okay for us to just relax, and accept the fact that everything passes; when you are happy, enjoy it because it will pass, and when you are sad, let yourself be sad, because that to will pass. Life is like an ocean; sometimes it’s calm and peaceful, sometimes it experiences storms and darkness, sometimes we ride on top of the waves, and sometimes we sink down deep between the waves. It is ever changing, everything is passing, coming and going. So maybe it’s not about finding happiness, or finding the one soulmate, or finding the one purpose, maybe it’s about learning to relax and trust. There will always be a million other things out there in the world that may or may not make us happy or happier, and no matter how much we search and try, we will never be able to go through it all, and so we will never find out if our choices are the ultimate best ones, and maybe that is okay, maybe we need to just be okay with that. If you are happy, don’t question it, just enjoy it.