Happiness is essentially a byproduct of our search in life. When we make it our goal, it becomes elusive, ethereal and unattainable.
We all struggle in life wondering when we will feel better, happier, more comfortable, in less pain, or having fewer worries. Many times, we feel that the answers do not seem to be forthcoming in our lives and we end up wondering if we will ever find it. However, we sre more stressed when we focus on problems and this only makes us have more physical problems and sadness. Understanding a few key points regarding happiness can be of some help.
If we want to be healthy over time, we have to stop focusing on the problems and the negatives in our lives. By seeing all the problems we have and forgetting how to just accept things the way they are, we end up missing out on the very thing we’ve been searching for all along.
Part of the problem is that we are always waiting for “something” to happen which will “make” us happy. We like to think that if we were older, younger, had more money, better chances, etc., that our lives would be much happier. Or perhaps we think that if others would just “be different” or stop being negative, then we would feel better. Regardless of these “external” solutions, the only result is that we end up feeling even more trapped.
When our focus is on what we don’t have, or on what others do or don’t do, we miss the point. Happiness has little to do with external events. It has more to do with our state of mind. The more we search for external answers, the more we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, sad, tearful, alone and uncertain about what to do.
The reality is that the only control we have is over ourselves.
When it comes down to it, happiness ultimately has to do with our perceptions — how we see the world — and how satisfied we are with what we have at this point in time.
As a result, it is deeply connected to our attitude and how we interpret the events that happen to us in life.
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How to Find Happiness
Happiness is not easily defined because it is not a simple concept. It is more complex than we believe; mostly because of our old habits. Increasing one’s calmness and peace of mind increases one’s capacity to enjoy life and be happy. This takes discipline and a focus on one’s mind in order to bring about the conscious decision to be of a calm and peaceful mind. As long as we continue to be in a panic, to be upset, and to feel desperate, we find oursevles avoiding the conditions that are necessary to find the true happiness that we want so very much in life.
Ultimately, it has to do with everything that you do in life. If you are wanting quick solutions, there is little chance that you will find what you want. What is most important in determining whether a course of action is beneficial is not the immediate pleasure or happiness. It has more to do with the ultimate positive or negative consequences to your act. This requires a future focus for each of our decisions, realizing that they do have a long-term impact on how we function.
We can approach life looking at our problems or by focusing on what we already have in life. Focusing on immediate pleasures only leads to an unstable way of being happy. However, focusing on your state of mind, your attitude, and how you are approaching life in a positive way even in the fact of problems, can make all the difference.
Making the right choice is not always easy. In fact, making the right choices in life may require:
- Accepting things the way they are.
- Understanding that the outcome from our choices may take some time.
- Being willing to put in the work and time to bring about a desired outcome.
- Keeping our mind focused on our ultimate goal while enjoying each day as it comes along.
Training for Happiness
We always think that someone who is more deserving — the person who is brighter, wealthier, or even anyone besides you — seems to be the one who is able to obtain happiness. The real training has to do with how we use our mind. This is the basic equipment that is required to find happiness.
The first key is learning to understand how negative emotions and behaviors are harmful and cause one to feel even more depressed. Positive emotions, and being optimistic, are much more helpful to our healing and well-being. Once one becomes convinced of the importance of positive emotions, a decision can be made to cultivate, develop and enjoy each moment and experience of each day.
One has to learn to analyze each thought and emotions as helpful or harmful to our daily life. Out of this one develops a determination to change one=s feelings and thoughts to more positive ones. This takes time, work, and a commitment that has a future focus.
What helps is to realize that your future is in your hands. What is required is a change in your thinking and your outlook toward life. This has to happen on a daily basis from the moment you awake in the morning, i.e., focusing yourself on the positives no matter how hard it is.
It is waking up thinking about how best to utilize the day, even if one is stuck. It also involves thinking at the end of the day about what you have accomplished during the day to bring about the positives into your life.
It is also not seeing one or two events as being the factors that will bring about happiness. IT IS A PROCESS that happens over time as you develop new habits to think differently.
Training, discipline and structuring our lives toward the positives are what is required if we are to be successful in life. Negatives come easy; usually because remembering negatives helps us remember to learn from our experiences. However, only thinking of the negatives stops us from learning and focuses our experience on being stuck.
Have a routine in your life (a structure). You have to stick to it and not get side-tracked. Those who do get side-tracked are always running and exhausted and feel overwhelmed. Then they have no time for themselves.
It is heathy to say no. It is healthy to not have to do everything or to fix everyone. Instead, say to others, “…well, you know best and I am sure you can figure it out.” Others may not like to hear this and yell louder, or demand more, but they are only trying to make you feel guilty.
The Importance of Compassion
Training for happiness takes an entirely different focus than one would expect.
Compassion, kindness, and feeling warm toward others are the central way toward finding happiness and health. It is the way in which we find that other human beings are just like us, struggling with the same issues, and wanting to, or fearing to, relate. This allows us to relate to them in a intimate way.
From birth, our basic nature is one of gentleness. It is only later that we develop our intelligence and have the means to develop in unbalanced ways that can lead to negative thinking patterns. We were meant from birth to be gentle and kind. Many things influence the “why” we become “trapped in negatives.”
No matter how many problems, conflicts, and difficulties we may have had in life, we have to return to our basic nature of kindness and gentleness. To do this, we have to overcome our shyness and fears, our underlying anger and frustration, so that we can work on developing the compassion for relatedness. We have to let go of our tendency to wait on others to make it easy for us to relate. We have to take the first step toward relatedness.
Happiness in a Nutshell
The goal of life is to turn toward building a life that is based on happiness in each day no matter what does, or does not, happen. Making this change requires that one develop a trained mind that has a structure that is focused on making the changes from negative to positive feelings.
Even though there are no guarantees, we have to commit ourselves daily to hope and finding happiness.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, in the midst of crises and problems, it helps to remind ourselves about our fundamental goal in life — compassion, hope, kindness, with a focus on happiness. The key is to make the best use of our time so that we keep that goal in front of us even when we are overwhelmed.
In everything we do, it is critical that we have our eye on the positive or negative consequences that our actions, thoughts and feelings have on the future and your goal toward happiness. This does not mean that we are naive and should allow ourselves to make negative choices in life, relationships, and other affairs that will bring more negatives into our lives. We need to avoid such situations by thinking about the long-term consequences of any decisions.
Working on one’s attitude is the only way to overcome loneliness and isolation. Social skills are helpful, but it may be more important to understand that the real solutions are (1) to be focused on positive emotions; (2) to avoid focusing on negative emotions/problems; (3) cultivating compassion and kindness; and (4) insuring that one=s goal is on being happy and having the discipline in each day to train one’s mind for happiness.
This is all based on our willingness to open ourselves up to others, friends, colleagues at work, strangers in line at the grocery store, and knowing that we were meant to be gentle and happy people. All of this is going to take work, time and effort with a real commitment to make this happen on a daily basis.
Nothing will happen fast. It will take time. It is a focus on growing beyond the moment to enjoying the moment as one things about moving toward the future in a positive way.
The only person you have to explain this to is to yourself. They will have to figure it out themselves and find their own happiness.
In the end, we have a straighforward choice before us. We must choose either embracing happiness in the here and now, or the unending pursuit of happiness.