Happiness is a good feeling. We say we are happy when we feel joy, contentment and satisfaction in everything. To many people, happiness is about doing something meaningful. To several it is about making a difference in someone else’s life. To a few it is a new outfit or a material object. We all think differently about happiness and hence feel it uniquely, too. Happiness is the harbinger of other positive emotions. Motivation, optimism, hopefulness, worthiness, self-compassion are all easier to feel when we are in a happy space.
Happiness: An ‘if and then’ game?
Do we ever think on these lines?
I’ll be happy if…
- I get to go on the school trip.
- I stand first in the final exams.
- I’m taken into that friend group.
- I’m selected to the football team.
- I get admission in the best college.
- My parents buy me the latest mobile phone.
It’s not surprising that the absence of these can be a pre-requisite for dissatisfaction or sadness. Yet, there is a convincing possibility that the presence of each of these still gives no assurance of permanent or long-lasting happiness.
Maybe we don’t really understand happiness. Possibly we don’t know what sadness is either. Happiness and sadness are not just emotions. They’re sometimes thoughts. We say we feel happy, but frequently, even when we’re in the middle of troubles, we rationalize our situation and think that we’re not doing as bad as it could have been. And then, we feel happy.
If we look at all of the times we’ve been happy, we’ll know that we were not happy because of things or people. But because of the way we perceived them. And thought about them. Ever noticed how the same adversity arouses different reactions in different people? Some kids who change schools seem lost and sad while others appear happier because they embrace the change and make new friends? Some of us get discouraged when we fare badly in an exam and yet many of us study with new-found vigour and excitedly ace the exam in the next semester.
So the truth stays that happiness and sadness are not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you. Most people depend on others to gain happiness, and blame others for their sadness, but factually; it always comes from within.
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