Before you read my understanding of happiness, I feel it necessary to inform you that after you read this, you might have this jolt of inspiration and sudden understanding of happiness, even though you truly didn’t understand what I wrote. That bliss will last for five minutes tops before you realize that nothing really happened and you’re back to, as Master Shifu said, “Level Zero”.
How do I know this will happen? Well many moons back (pardon my dramatic nature), I too was trying to find out what being happy meant and during my intense research (which mostly involved reading quotes on Google Images, but mind you, it was intense) I found the seemingly perfect one which answered all my qualms. The quote said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
After reading that, like those movie montages where the protagonist realizes the answer to it all, my eyes lit up, emotional music began to play in the back of my head and I looked around and everything seemed to make sense.
I don’t know about movies, but my montage lasted for about a minute.
First of all, (no offense Denis Waitley) what the hell is a spiritual experience supposed to mean and how can I, when everything literally sucks, feel love, grace, and whatever that other word means. As if it’s that easy.
But that’s when I also realized that emotions like happiness are different for everybody and eventually at some point in your life you’re going to vaguely get it and that’s when this article will matter. It will (hopefully) help you make sense of your understanding of happiness.
To explain it briefly, in the wise words of Stephen Fry, “It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.”
Well, now that’s done, the time has come for me to share my understanding of happiness with you…
This lesson I learned from the Oscar-winning movie, ‘Inside Out’. At the time when I watched it, I was just happy to see that order was restored in Riley’s brain (she was going a bit cuckoo), but later on, when I rewatched it with my sister, I realized what the movie was actually trying to tell. There would be no joy if there was no sadness. We simply would not be able to feel so good, unless we felt so low at times.
The thing is, all of us humans, are so afraid of sadness and all that pain, that we try to push it away and keep the facade of joy up and running, until eventually that machine just runs out of oil and things start to crumble, often to a point of no return. Now I’m not telling you to be sad all the time, but advising you to embrace it when it hits, and like a wave, it’ll crest and eventually subside. But the further you keep trying to hold on and push through, the higher it’s going to crest and harder it’s going to hit. So, in short, embrace sadness when it comes. That’s the only way you’ll be able to smile later on and feel joy.
And all that from a children’s movie… I deserve a damn Pulitzer.
2.) Happiness is living with yourself
Do you know what makes the world’s best comedians so good? It’s their ability to crack jokes about themselves and point out their imperfections in a humorous way. Now, believe me, they make it look simple, but telling the truth about yourself and having people laugh at it is no easy feat. But it is enjoyable if you truly accept who you are. There are some things you’ll have to accept for the rest of your life and some things you’ll have to accept in order to move forward and change positively.
And a lot of you out there might be thinking, “As if, it’s that easy to just accept yourself like that. You don’t know how hard it is for me.” It isn’t easy at all, for anyone. You’ll have a lot of doubts, fears and it’s going to be really difficult, but talking about it either with a professional, a friend, peer counselor, family or even yourself exposes the underlying problem and enables you to solve it. It is tough but necessary…
3) Happiness is being you
Every day, at exactly seven in the evening I go out for a walk and each time I encounter this old man, who sings whatever he is listening to, not giving a damn about what I or anyone else thinks. He just listens to his music, sings, and truly enjoys that experience. And I envy him. Now, I’m not asking all of you to go out in the open and sing, noise pollution these days is high enough as it is. But, try to be free. Try to be you. When faced with a choice, think about what you want to do. If you prefer the neon green socks to the navy blue ones, wear it. If you want to drink a milkshake, even though you make that weird slurping sound, drink it. What I’m saying is, stop making your decisions based on what society would think. Believe me, apart from your loved ones, everyone else is too engrossed in their own lives to pay attention to the color of your socks. Even if they do, they forget about it within a couple of seconds.
So stop living your life for people who are not going to give you a second thought. And believe me, apart from our loved ones, all of us, be it a celebrity, a politician, or corporate hotshot are just passing thoughts. So allow yourself to be you, so you can be happy and make those loved ones around you too. And just like how we all are different from each other, happiness will mean different things to us too. That’s the lovely thing about happiness… You can make it your own.
4) And finally… Happiness is now…
In the popular show, ‘This is Us’, one of the main characters William, who’s terminally ill says, “Stop playing it so cool. Catch all the beautiful moments of your life because you’ll never know how much time you have left.”
Happiness really is a choice. You can choose to notice all the small and wonderful things around you and enjoy them or live under the false belief that eventually, happiness will come your way. It never will. It’s just always there, so stop looking at your reflection in the water but around you and maybe you’ll find some happiness in there somewhere. Being happy is not at the end of the road, contrary to popular motivational movies. It’s all those memories and moments that led you there. Remember that.
Now, remember, you’re not going to be happy every day of the year. Some days are going to be rough and when that happens it’s important to talk about it with someone. If you’re unwilling to talk to your family and friends, there are many online counseling platforms such as YourDost, BetterLyf, and more, or peer-counseling platforms such as ours (HappyInc). If you strongly don’t feel like talking, read blogs on mental health as they are very helpful. If you don’t know where to start reading you can browse through our HappyBlog or check out this list compiled by Neuro Wellness Spa for the top 100 mental health blogs out there.
Founder of HappyInc