Happiness is all around us, but some of us are blind to its presence. It can be difficult to see happiness through the hurts and problems of the present. Pain, loneliness, difficulties and money problems can surround us like a thick fog. The sun can burn off the fog, but when you are inside this fog of emotional distress, the sun can seem dim and distant. We have to ignite the fire within us to burn away that fog. Happy people burn with a light that lets them see all of the joys of the world and pushes away the dark thoughts and emotions. Some folks find it hard to find that spark and ignite their fire because they think that happiness is something that happens to them and not something they create for themselves.
Here are 5 simple truths about happiness that are sometimes shrouded in the fog:
1. It Is a journey and not a destination.
Happiness is not a place you arrive at. Happiness is the journey itself. Everyday you have to choose to walk the path of happiness and not to happiness. Learn to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the view at the very least. Seek out happiness wherever you can find it. It also helps to bring friends along for the ride. Be patient and look for new and wonderful things you might have missed if you had checked your email instead.
2. You have to work at becoming happier.
You have to keep the fire burning everyday by feeding it. Doing things that are kind, generous or helpful can bring happiness to others. Happiness is contagious, and when you make others happy, you will feel happy as well. It feels good to have people appreciate you and be thankful for things you do for them. Do for others everyday and they will bring you joy in return.
3. We adapt quickly.
The new and the novel will bring us happiness in the short term, but we quickly get used to it. That new house, car, television, relationship or job will make us happy initially, but the newness will quickly wear off. We get used to it and want more. We stop appreciating what we have in our lives and desire something newer and shinier. It is part of our nature and seems to be hardwired into us. But, we can choose to be grateful for the things and people we have in our lives. We have to remind ourselves that we are lucky to have what we have and that many people have far less than us.
4. Happiness and pleasure are not the same.
Some people mistake pleasures of the mind and body for true happiness. They indulge in drugs, alcohol, eating, exercise, sex, adrenaline rushes and any other thing you can imagine that would stimulate the physical body. But, these pleasures are fleeting and we build up a tolerance to them. We require larger and more intense doses of these pleasures to get the same rush. We lose ourselves in our desire to chase the dragon.
Happiness is a state of mind and not one of the body. A healthy body with healthy appetites can certainly help us achieve our happiness, but an overindulgence in physical gratification can actually hinder our state of happiness. Too little and too much of something can fuel unhappiness. We have to find our own “Goldilocks Zone” of moderation in order to sustain long term happiness.
5. Everyone is different.
What makes you happy could be fundamentally different from what makes everyone else happy. You have to find your own happy path. Others will walk with you for awhile, but the path is your own. You build it as you go with the experiences and memories that are uniquely yours. What makes your partner, your friends or your family happy may be different than that which stokes your fire. Feed your fire with the things that make you happy while also feeding the fires of those around you. Once you have found your spark and fed your fire to the point where you have burned away the fog around you, then you can move closer to others who are still lost in their own fog. Move in and let them feel your warmth. Let them feel your happiness as you slowly help them lift the fog around themselves.