Written by Todd Nordstrom
It’s a word that is overused, and hard to define. It’s concept that can be fleeting, or long-lasting. And, it’s a feeling that for many of us can feel elusive. What is happiness? And, why does it matter?
If you ask most people what they want out of life, happiness tops the list. In fact, a quick Google search of “What do people want most in life?” will reveal pages of surveys, lists, and studies which, almost all, place happiness in the number one position.
It makes sense. We all want to be happy. And, due to social media, it sometimes can feel like we’re exposed to everyone else’s happiness every second of the day—a new promotion for Bobby, a new car for Sue, a new grandchild for Lisa, and an extravagant vacation for the entire Jones family.
While witnessing the people around us experience positive life events can sometimes make us feel deprived of happiness (because you want a new promotion too), it’s important to pause and truly understand what happiness means to you.
Here are four truths about happiness that you should consider before you start judging whether or not you’re happy or unhappy.
1. Happiness isn’t a trait. Instead it’s a state
We all know people we would define as continuously happy. These are the people that are always in a good mood. They seemingly always have a positive outlook. And, life, for the most part, always tends to side in their favor. Still, it’s important to realize that Happiness isn’t genetic. It’s not a trait. Instead it’s a fleeting and changeable state. Happiness comes and goes.
2. Happiness has a limit
Yes, a person can only have so much happiness in their life. Happiness, by most definitions, simply relates to a feeling of pleasure and contentment. It shouldn’t be confused with joy, bliss, or other more intense emotions. This is important to understand if you’re questioning your own happiness. Are you content? Then you might be happy.
3. Happiness can be faked
Let’s revisit those people who always seem happy. It’s important to realize that happiness is both internal and external. The internal version of happiness is the feeling of pleasure and contentment. The external is the showing, or revelation of that emotion. People can be internally happy and not show it. People can be internally happy and liberally share it. And, yes, people can simply fake external happiness.
4. Happiness is yours
While there are countless check-lists that reveal happiness as the most desired thing people want in life, there is no check-list of things you personally need to attain in order to feel happy. For example, the purr of a kitten might bring one person a feeling of happiness, and bring another person an allergy attack. Buying a massive mansion might bring one person happiness, while it might make another feel overwhelmed with responsibility. Even children mean different things to different people. One person might view the birth of a child as a blessing that fulfills their life plan, while another person might view a child as a responsibility that makes them surrender their life plan. The point is, we all need to stop judging our own happiness based on the perceived happiness of others. Your happiness is yours to define.
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