Happiness.

When asked ‘what makes us happy?’ – we find it difficult to answer. What exactly is happiness? How do you define it? In our culture we are so driven to achieve happiness, an idealised version of how to live your life.

We have to work hard at being happy, to be happy. But we must realise happiness is not the be-all, end-all of what we should chase in life; despite what we’ve been told. Instead it should be the by-product of something else – of finding meaning and fulfilment in our lives. When we feel passionate about the things we do, the way we live, the people in our lives; we feel passionate about life. Happiness comes from fulfilment and purpose. When we have goals we truly believe in, we have purpose. Our goals, our dreams make us feel important, fulfilled. When we don’t have goals or we strive for goals of others, we don’t feel complacent and our lives lack meaning. Sometimes people who seem to have it all – money, power, fame aren’t happy at all, something doesn’t feel right. They feel cheated because deep down they are living for someone else. They let themselves believe happiness comes from external influences, not from within – not their inner peace, state of mind, nor the factors within their internal locus of control.

It’s important to be truthful to yourself about what makes you happy because if you go out looking for this “happiness” without really knowing what it means to you; then it will elude you. Happiness is a state of the mind; an entity independent of external forces and influences. Happiness is really your own. You are responsible for your own happiness.

Although happiness is wonderful, we can’t always be happy; something unsurprising as it is the human condition to be negative. We can be content and accepting but I don’t think we can be happy all the time and perhaps more importantly; nor should we be striving to be. Acceptance is the solution (to the happiness question). Acceptance is not suppressing your negative emotions, pretending nothing ever happened or that you don’t care, nor is it accepting fault that you were to blame. Acceptance is awareness and confronting pain, which allows you to let go, it is conscious separation from that negativity. To move on from the past, you must fully accept it, feel and express your emotions (to someone or yourself).

Negative emotions are not pleasant and negative experiences hurt us. Yet negativity has much to teach us. It is scary to let yourself to feel pain, to be vulnerable, but in doing so you give yourself compassion by allowing yourself to heal (in order to heal, you must accept). Being vulnerable and true to your feelings, turns pain into power, power to take back control of your life. In pain we find power, strength within ourselves, in sadness we find gratitude and beauty in the world when we least expect it. Our negative experiences change us but they make us the people we are today, just as positive experiences do. We can let negative experiences continue hurting us or we can accept the pain, and then move on with our lives. But only you can choose to move forward, no one else can do this for you.

We can try really hard at being happy all the time or we can choose to experience the magnitude of emotions we feel. Letting go of the need to be happy all the time is liberating and we’d probably find ourselves feeling more happy ironically. When you experience negative emotions, don’t feel bad about feeling bad. They too will pass. Sit with those emotions and notice them, watch them a while. Let yourself feel their full force instead of trying to run away from them. When you observe them from afar; they disassociate from you and the intensity of the emotions disappear, and you will feel better. When we’re experiencing emotions they can feel so real to us that we confuse them with our being, but they’re just reactions to things – our interpretation of the world; not necessarily the whole truth. Often we forget that we are not our emotions.

The most liberating, enlightening thing we can do is to be, to just (let ourselves) be.

IMG_5886“Haze of Life.” 

All content and photos are the author’s own and subject to copyright. 

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