I believe that every human is striving through every moment of his/her life seeking happiness. However, each of us defines happiness differently. What is happiness for one might not be happiness for another.
Across our lives, we all identify special moments where we experience happiness. And these moments are special for us when put in the context of our lives.
For someone who has lived in poverty, a sumptuous meal would be a moment of happiness. But for someone brought up in the home of a millionaire, a sumptuous meal need not have anything to do with happiness.
Once the human mind identifies what makes it feel happy, naturally, it wants to keep recreating that experience and feel happy over and over again. But trouble ensues with that.
For example :
1. When Johnny was in 5th Grade, he was the topper in the annual examination. His parents gifted him a Play-Station console because he had topped his class. Johnny was very very happy. He associated his success, his reward and happiness as one natural flow. And so from that day, very unconsciously he tried to be successful so that he could experience the same kind of happiness all over again.
Today Johnny is an entrepreneur. He owns a startup. He works very hard to achieve success – even at the cost of spoiling his health. In order to deal with fatigue, he resorts to alcohol everyday. Johnny is a compulsive eater while he is stressed at work. And he smokes a packet of cigarettes everyday. Very unconsciously his mind believes that happiness lies in the reward that comes from success. For Johnny, nothing else really amounts to happiness!
2. When Betty was 6 years old, she massaged her father’s forehead one day to relieve him of his headache. Her father was very pleased with his daughter’s sensitivity and care. So he gave her a warm hug after that and told her how much he loved her and cherished her. Betty was very happy to receive all that love from her father. Every evening when her father returned from work, Betty would spend 5 minutes massaging her father’s forehead and it would end with a wonderful moment of bonding between her father and her. It became a daily ritual of happiness for her.
Today Betty believes that happiness comes only when one serve others and cares for their needs. She goes out of her way to help people in need. And sometimes when people do not reciprocate her act of service with gratitude, Betty tells herself that (obviously) she hasn’t done enough for the other and needs to do more for them. This has often drained Betty completely and even kept her trying to please people who cannot reciprocate.
[Read this article on “Are you a People-Pleaser?“ if Betty’s traits resonate with you]
Both Johnny and Betty have equated ‘happiness’ with a situation. If the situation is fulfilled, they feel happy. If it isn’t, they somehow cannot feel happy anymore. On the contrary they feel disappointed and unhappy. Often, they want to try harder and harder at the situation in order to find their happiness
This is what I call as a “Situational Happiness” – Happiness that can be experienced ONLY when a certain condition is fulfilled or a certain situation occurs.
However, there is a deeper way to feel happy – one that becomes a ‘State of Being’ and is not linked with any particular external situation. When one is happy internally, one no longer defines happiness in one particular way. Happiness can be experienced in a million different ways for such people. These people are therefore generally more content and satisfied with themselves and their lives.
When people who experience happiness as a ‘State of Being’ go through life, they find ways to figure out their happiness, no matter what challenge life throws at them. It just becomes a natural way of life. They gravitate towards people/situations that help them feel more happy, but they don’t get stuck with any person/situation. There is a natural flow about them that is very light and easy.
Does it mean, these people don’t feel any other emotion? Of course they do. But they look at every situation as one that would pass. And despite the emotion that the situation brings to them, they know that they are happy with their lives. They deeply understand that happiness cannot be achieved, earned, owned, traveled to, eaten or bought. When Happiness is a State of Being, it is a spiritual process of living life with ease, grace and flow.
“All I can guarantee you is that as long as you are searching for happiness, you will remain unhappy.”
– U.G. Krishnamurti
“Happiness is an art that one has to learn. It has nothing to do with your doing or not doing.”
So do you experience happiness only when you are doing something (a Situational Happiness) or do you experience happiness irrespective of and beyond the situation (A State of Being)?
Is your happiness Situational? Or is it a deeper, State of Being?