Happiness – we’ve got it all wrong!

Happiness. We all want it, but boy, oh boy, it can be so elusive. You see, part of the problem is that we don’t really know what happiness means. Google “how to be happy” and in 0.43 seconds, you get 3.970 billion answers to this question. 3.970 billion answers! Let that sink in.

Yes, we know that happiness is a very personal thing, so you expect a few answers to this question. Apart from the ones that give us the state the obvious type answers – you know, “follow your bliss”, “do what you want to do”, “smile 100 times per day” – will it help me understand why I am not happy?

How do we get to happiness, that illusory place we all aspire to get to but we don’t really know how to? And say we get there, what happens when we find something is missing and realise we are not that happy after all.

Why am I not happy? What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with you? Let me tell you a little secret. There is nothing wrong with us. Except that we are looking at this all wrong.

So I want you to stop right now. Stop wasting your time. It is futile. You will never reach happiness. Because happiness is not a destination and it is not a journey either.

Whoa! What do you mean?

Yes, you want to be happy, I get it. We all do. But you cannot be happy all the time. It is impossible. It is not normal. And it just does not happen. Everyone who has walked this earth and who will walk this earth, has a life full of good, bad, pretty, ugly, clean and dirty.

We all have successes and failures, ups and downs, passionate love and broken hearts, great people in our lives and some that we are sorry we ever met, unlimited dreams, many of these unfulfilled. This cycle of triumph and disaster is what makes our lives worth living.

Taking the good with the bad. We are not just meant to have the good. The bad enhances the good, makes us appreciate it, chase it, fight for it, cherish it. In life, we need this contrast as it brings us balance. Hopefully we are more skewed towards the good, but we need some balance nonetheless.

We need the challenges, failures, broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams to make us cherish every single moment of our lives. This is what makes our lives worth living. Not looking for an illusion called happiness. Happiness is just one of the states we pass in our life journey.

So if we are not meant to be chasing happiness, what are we meant to do?

The author and playwright Henry Miller once said,

“the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware”

What a wonderful quote. And I think it has a lot to give us.

To be aware is to be conscious, to be cognisant, to have perception or knowledge of a situation or fact.

To be aware is to take in all that life gives us – the good, the bad, the ugly, process it and act on it.

To be joyously aware is for us to embrace with unbridled wonder all that life throws at us. Observe, reflect and yes, smile.

To be drunkenly aware is for us to feel giddy with the excitement that life brings us. Sometimes feeling you have little control is the best thing you can do for yourself.

To be serenely aware is for us to feel calm about whatever life throws at us. My grandmother would always say, “this too, will pass.”

To be divinely aware is for us to believe and have faith in someone or something that we really do not comprehend and give in to the what and why life throws at us.

So from now on, remove the following recordings from your head.

“When I do BLAH, I will be happy,”

“If only I worked at BLAH, I would be happy,”

“If only I could BLAH more, I would be happy.”

“One day, I will be happy.”

“I need to be happy.”

These are not records worth playing. Play these instead.

“Be aware”

“Be joyously aware”

“Be drunkenly aware”

“Be serenely aware”

“Be divinely aware”

Happiness – we’ve got it all wrong! Be aware instead


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