Happiness is undoubtedly the most sought out emotion in life. Many of us are probably looking for it right this minute, or just waiting for the day when it’ll finally present itself to us and that’s when we’ll know everything will fall into place.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but no matter how hard you look, you will never find happiness.
Before you jump the gun though, just hear me out.
You will never find happiness. And yet countless times I still hear many around me desperately cry out, “I need to be happy! I need to find happiness!” I should know. I used to be one of those people.
The fact that we’re trying to find happiness reveals our misconception of it. We tend to search for happiness as if it’s a physical entity out there in the world just waiting for us to find it. We manifest happiness in material things and people, which is why many of us grow so attached to such things. We’ve developed this false idea of happiness.
Some of us may be thinking we’ll be happy once we graduate high school, go to college, graduate college, get a career, get married, raise a family, etc. Perhaps you fantasize about falling in love with the right person, someone who understands you and loves you like never before, and from that moment on you will find everlasting happiness. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not how life works.
First of all, no matter how hard you try, you will never be happy 100% of the time, and you shouldn’t try to be. Why would you want to? Being happy all the time paves the way for a monotonous existence. Us humans are complex creatures that hold a kaleidoscope of emotions which are all vital to understanding ourselves and living a complete life. Yet we have a tendency to perceive emotions in black and white. We view happiness as the positive spectrum of emotions, which is why we grow so attached to it and obsess over finding it.
On the other hand, we perceive other emotions like depression and anxiety as bad, therefore we automatically try to control these emotions or suppress them entirely, rather than try to understand them.
We refuse to acknowledge our feelings of sadness because we live in a society where showing vulnerability is equivalent to being weak or crazy, when in reality our emotions are one of the key facets that make us human.
When we can’t seem to find happiness we turn to other vacuums to fill the void, such as food, sex, drugs and entertainment for temporary solace. But these things are just temporary. The more we try to push away our emotions or try to tame them, the more they come back to us tenfold.
When we try to find happiness we cease to be here in the moment. As we find an escape, whether that be through substance or through our own minds, we drift away from reality and cease to live in the present.
We need to realize that emotions aren’t fleeting. They flow and are often beyond our control; therefore we must abide by them and feel them as they are. We must seek to understand them instead of trying to relentlessly chase happiness as a way to alleviate our own suffering.
Be patient with your suffering, find the root of your emotions, express your feelings out loud, all while not depending on another person to fill you with happiness.
But what about when life is so bad you feel like you’re in a dark hole you can’t seem to get out of? What if you’re going through some insurmountable circumstances that has sapped the happiness out of your life? That’s when you have to breathe and take a break.
Remember that’s it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling. So once you take time to try to understand why it is you feel what you’re feeling, take a break from life for a while. It can be as simple as going outside and stepping away from life’s demands for a change.
Take time to notice the beauty the world has to offer. Return to a hobby you enjoy, whether that be painting or picking up an instrument you haven’t played in a while. This may just be the catharsis you need. Or just try something new completely.
If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, an activity you’ve been wanting to pursue or something big you’ve always wanted to take on, do it. Give it your all, and don’t be afraid to mess up.
Remember life is about taking risks and learning from your mistakes. Without noticing at first you’ll find happiness being created within you, as you engage in things you genuinely enjoy and have more to look forward in your everyday life. And while you’re at it, feel free to involve other people too, like your closest friends or family.
There’s a saying that happiness is only real when shared. With that in mind, try doing something nice for someone. Doing these things won’t necessarily always guarantee you happiness, but it is very likely you will feel happiness being created within you. The following image encapsulates it best:
Hear that? You don’t have to find happiness, because you can create it within you.
It’s easy to imagine a life devoid of problems and unhappiness. But remember, you WILL have bad days, bad weeks and even bad months, depending on what life throws at you.
That’s life, and the sooner you accept it the better. But you don’t have to take all of life’s hardships upon yourself. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, rather than repress them; talking to a friend, sibling, counselor or someone else who is willing to listen, helps.
Find the root of your emotions. And please, stop trying to find happiness. Because if your happiness is dependent upon people or material substances, just know this happiness isn’t likely to last.
Bottom line, happiness starts with YOU. No matter how bad things may seem, you are capable of creating happiness within yourself. Create a life that’s a balance between life’s responsibilities and the activities you enjoy.
According to the Japanese, we all have an ikigai- a reason for being. We all have a certain passion and curiosities that keep us moving forward in life. So, fill your life with the things that inspire you, and it’ll be easier to navigate life’s obstacles.
Rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future, be here now. Stay curious, and be open to change. Viktor E. FrankL says, “the meaning of life is to give life a meaning.” Creating happiness is exactly that. It’s discovering the things that keep you moving forward alongside the people you care about, and appreciating the little things.
Happiness will come to you when you least expect it. All you have to do is stop looking for it.