Happiness is something that is purely subjective. Each of us will have our own definition of what constitutes ‘being happy.’ But just as good health isn’t merely the absence of disease, true happiness isn’t simply the absence of stress. True, authentic happiness is something that is an innate experience – one that oftentimes needs to be cultivated over long periods of time. We need to sow the seeds of our own happiness, water them, watch them grow, tend to them as we would a garden. It’s all a part of our inner landscaping. We grow, maintain and proliferate yet more happiness with each conscious action we take towards being our own greatest source of strength.
Yet, for some of us, happiness remains – or appears to remain – forever out of our grasp. It’s always just on the horizon. Always in view, but just moving out of reaching distance. A continuous game of chasing the sun. And the reason for that is our happiness is misplaced… It’s ascribed to things, people and events rather than simply being happy with who we are and giving ourselves permission to be comfortable and secure in our own skin without any external stimulus. Just be happy for happiness sake. That is the art that so many us of have lost. Happiness has become dependent on what we can use to make us happy rather than being own source of joy.
Creating False Identities of Attachment
A large part of what prevents us from accepting the happiness we can offer to ourselves is the over-externalising of it. So often do we attach our identities to external sources, which then become the seat of happiness. This has been going on for many decades now since the advent of modern consumerism in the 1950s. The only difference being the progression of modern technology from black and white TV to iPhone Pro’s. Happiness has become so much about a state of acquiring and of being outside of ourselves through these narrative’s of attachment, we’ve trust forgotten how to just be with ourselves. The art of the silent, unfettered mind has become a wild fantasy – to the extent, it’s probably considered ‘a bit weird’ by some of the younger millennials, today.
The Happiness Paradox: Happy to Be Unhappy (Settling)
In short, people are happy to be where they are in life. Many people are too willing to settle. And that’s not to denigrate or chastise anyone. But it’s a common trend that many people will simply ‘put up’ with their lot and figure that this is as good as it gets – why rock the boat? People are happy being unhappy without even recognising that’s the narrative they’re playing out. And it’s often through a lack of knowingness about what could be possible with a little application and reaching for something that keeps people rooted in emotional mediocrity. But it can all be changed with the power of choice.
The Key Areas of Happiness
So, if we’re not to externalise our happiness, how do we go about cultivating true authentic happiness that’s valued by the measure of the felt-experience? It’s actually quite rudimentary and many of the areas below may seem like they’re slap you in the face obvious. But they’re obvious for a reason, and that’s because they’re true. Focus your attention on these aspects of your life, and you’ll build the foundations of true happiness:
Health: Health is your true wealth. It’s an old saying. But it’s something that can often only be appreciated when you’ve experienced the absence of it. Maintaining our health is something that we must constantly be vigilant about whether in the physical, mental or emotional sense.
Self- Esteem: Probably the most foundational part of being happy is self-esteem. It is, in fact, the very essence of happiness. How much – or little – we value ourselves is at the very core of why so many of us are mired in self-defeating mindsets.
Goals: Without the ability to look forward and place ourselves in positions of challenge, we’ll never experience victories. And without having those moments of celebration, we never get to self-congratulate and build up a sense of who we are by the things we’ve achieved.
Abundance: Abundance is often used as a by-word for money… But it’s so much more than that. True abundance extends to all areas of life including: family, friends, opportunity, health, love and so on. The key to cultivating true abundance is by getting out of a scarcity mindset.
Fulfilment: If you’re in a state of perpetual unfulfillment, you’ll most likely be stuck in the cycle of mediocrity of just doing enough. Or, to put it another way… If you don’t have your own plan, you become part of someone else’s.
Recreation: Happiness is always about striving. There needs to be a balance between work and play. Recreation is something that should be hardwired into our daily lives. It’s a right, not a privilege and something we should all have more of.
Learning: When people think of learning, they often think of it in the institutional sense and all of the baggage that comes along with the trauma of going to school. But real-world, self-directed learning is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and the true passport to happiness.
Creativity: The creative spirit is one that must be nurtured in all of us. And it can mean anything you want. It doesn’t have to be related to the arts if you’re not inclined that way, it can be the way you present yourself, the way you speak and relate to those around you. The only limit is your imagination.
Love: Love is the traditional one-stop answer for how to cultivate happiness. And it applies to all of the above. You need to bring a sense of love to what you do, who you spend time with and how you interact with the world. But the love you extend is dependent on the love you offer yourself.