On average, the general population of today’s world live with greater material comfort, less prevalence of illness, improved equality and far more possibilities than people who lived at any other time in our history. However judging from the number of bestselling self help books out there on “how to achieve happiness in life”, this question seems to be a significant one for a lot of people around the world. It seems that many do acknowledge the fact that in spite of being financially comfortable and with more than just a roof over their head, true happiness still remains out of reach.
We don’t have to look so deeply to notice all the constant messages that we are bombarded with on a daily basis about what kinds of things we desperately need in order to live a happy life. The world of advertising has convinced us that happiness is only a purchase away, fashionable clothes, fast cars, good looks and social status. This is part of living in a society that is driven by goals and outcomes, and sells us the incorrect idea that true happiness is something that can be pursued and acquired mostly through material possessions.
Just ten minutes of scrolling through you Instagram/facebook feed can often leave us feeling that the happiest people out there are the ones who have an endless number of friends/likes, or ones who Instagram photos of their acai bowl every Sunday brunch.
Focusing on the things that other people have that we might not, can easily lead us to believe that our happiness is dependent upon our life being exactly the way we’d like it to be.
Thus far, research has determined that happiness comes from two things: 1. feeling a sense of connection to those around us, and from contributing to something greater than ourselves, therefor creating a sense of purpose. 2. Those who are happiest are those who are optimistic, and those who are optimistic are those who trust that good will happen. It is said that up to 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetic make up and is thus beyond our control. However, this means that at least half of our happiness is in our own hands and is dependent on our habits, behaviors and ultimately will.
In a society so obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, we find ourselves constantly seeking all forms of activities and engaging in various acts of consumerism in a quest to be happy. We often feel that happiness is a result of gaining something. An acquisition or some sort of end point.
There is quote which I try (and sometimes fail) to live by..
“Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one will be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility…”
This quote delves right to the core of the matter, diagnosing the fundamental flaw in our understanding of happiness that leaves so many people frustrated and lost. In order to understand what brings us real happiness, we have to understand our true nature as human beings. The fact that so many people are struggling to find what exactly it is that makes them happy must mean that we as a society have not understood who we really are.
True happiness is an attitude we foster rather than something we possess. It is about a condition of being rather than of having.