Many of us are searching for happiness.
We expect it to appear out of the darkness and make everything feel great again. Many of us think that as soon as we meet our significant other, or start a family, or buy a house, or finish our degree, or start our dream career, then we will finally be happy. But I’ve come to realise that happiness is not the end result of something. Yes, you might get temporary happiness when you meet your ‘forever person’ or finish your degree with first class honours, but this isn’t the form of eternal happiness that you read about in books or watch in films or series.
Happiness is a journey. Happiness is the way in which you get from A to B. Most importantly, though, happiness starts with you.
The only thing preventing you from feeling this happiness is yourself. Nobody is taking it away from you, because it is not something that can be taken away. It’s a choice. As soon as I realised this, (okay, admittedly it wasn’t that long ago) a whole weight was lifted from my shoulders. I’d realised that I was placing so much pressure on myself to meet someone, to do well in my studies, all because I’m striving for ‘happiness’ that occurs as a result of all of these actions. All the while, I’m missing out on essential years of my life, when actually I can choose to be happy now.
If you want to be sad, nobody in the world can make you happy. But if you make up your mind to be happy, no one and nothing on earth can take that happiness away from you.
– Paramahansa Yogananda
An elusive concept, or an effortless emotion?
Happiness is always considered to be some idealistic mystery – something that none of us really know the true definition of; something that is so far out of reach that it becomes an elusive concept. But, this simply isn’t true. It is the human being’s natural state, to be happy. In today’s world, it has been drawn out and stretched and interpreted and morphed into a whole ideal, giving individuals like you and me the idea that it is now, suddenly, so difficult (and even borderline impossible) to achieve. In some ways, being so involved with social media is ultimately what has lead to this mutation of the meaning of happiness. I scroll through my Instagram feed and see perfect bodies, healthy eating, couples on beaches and people generally living their ‘best lives’. Before we know it, our concept of the true meaning of ‘happiness’ is this unrealistic perfection, and sometimes this can be enough to knock back our chances of being truly happy, photo by photo.
Of course, a social media cut-down helped me ridiculously. It can be so addictive. As someone with anxiety, Instagram and other social media platforms are used to make time pass when I feel uncomfortable or uneasy; whether this is sitting in a waiting room, waiting for a friend to arrive, sat on the train, and many other social situations. As a generation, we rely on social media and technology to allow us to escape from the world, when in reality we’re allowing our happiness to slip through our fingertips too. I have come to realise that happiness comes from within, and it comes from the present. If we are always in our minds, on social media, thinking about the past, worrying about the future, there is no wonder that we haven’t discovered this ‘all elusive’ concept yet. It begins with our thoughts, and with what we tell ourselves.
Allow me to elaborate.
What we think, we become.
We are surrounded by so many beautiful things. Beautiful objects, beautiful places, and beautiful people. We so often allow things like this to pass us by, not paying much attention, or living inside our heads so much that we barely even notice anything else. I think that mindfulness is the journey towards inner happiness. The goal of being mindful is to be present; to focus on things in our immediate surroundings and lead our lives in the direction of positivity and lightheartedness. Being ever-present results in a happiness that is effortless. After all, it would be absurd to truly believe that happiness was something that you had to work really hard for. In the same way as sadness, it is easy to feel a certain way – the way you think and the patterns your mind follows are what leads to the emotions that you emit. We don’t have to work hard to be sad, it just happens. Happiness is exactly the same – an effortless emotion. By letting go of this negativity, this damaging mindset; there is no stopping us.
As I said, happiness starts with you.
This life is yours.