Couple of weeks ago I heard from one of our good friends something like “…but where can we find happiness?” Maybe he was just kidding but it got me and kept me thinking what happiness really is? How is it affecting our lives? and importantly where can we find it?
Here is what I come up with:
I found couple of different definitions for happiness in psychology literature but definitions are not going to help me and you to be happy or find happiness. Happiness is a personal state of feeling, isn’t it? What makes you happy may be nonsense to me and vice versa. Even in different stages of our lives what happiness means to us may vary widely. By the way, have you ever noticed the duplicity around happiness? From one side we know what happiness is and from the other side we are all chasing Happiness like it’s a ghost escaping from us and only if we catch it we can live happily ever after. For example, I know happiness when I go to my favorite café and get a flat white and Danish pastry or when I come home and my sweet dog welcomes me and jumps on to hug me or when I snuggle in bed with Ryan to watch our favorite TV show. But when it comes to Happiness, it’s a future state depending on many factors, one biggie for me is how successful am I going to be in my career, how much money am I going to make and whether I would be able to build my dream lifestyle or not. I call this conditional happiness and is a trap I have fallen in many times and still do occasionally. How delusional is it to overlook the present and hold onto a future idea which may or may not serve us when we get there! Don’t get me wrong, I am an ambitious person I love to live a fab lifestyle happily ever after. But as Saint Catherine of Siena said all the way to heaven is heaven, right? If we are compromising our present state in chase of an imaginary future Happiness we are falling into a trap and it hunts the happiness in our life like an impostor. Happiness is not a destination but a progressive journey. Every day we can ask ourselves how can I be happier today? then take a teeny tiny courageous action toward it. For me to answer the question of “how can I be happier?” I must be in-tuned with myself. I must feel my feelings -rather than avoiding them- and I have to pay close attention to my body and physical sensations. Only when I pay close attention to myself I can discern what really makes me happy and from there I know how can I be happier. But when I get stuck all in my head, hovering above my body and feelings, I would only chase what culture and society put in my head about happiness and would blindly chase those ideas. How futile and draining…
By the way did you know that 50% of our baseline happiness level is determined by our genetics? 10-20% is determined by our life circumstances and 30-40% is our thoughts and actions . And that’s a pretty big portion we have control over moment by moment, choice by choice. That’s where we can find our happiness, right?
Happiness for me is a sense of inner spaciousness, peace and joy. I find happiness in self-care, stillness, being in nature, good food, reading a good book and having an aromatic tea, looking at Ryan and Sophie and Gracie, working toward my dreams and in being there for my family and friends. in no specific order! lol
If you are reading this I would love to hear what does happiness mean for you? What feelings do you associate with happiness? Where do you find happiness?
Love from my heart to yours
 Sonja Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness : A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, 2009.