We often ponder the question or get asked “Are we happy?” Happiness is fleeting, transitory. One moment we are happy; the next – not so. We make some money on stocks – wonderful. The market goes down – what a bummer. My child offers to help – brilliant. My child chucks a wobbly in the carpark – not happy. If we seek happiness it escapes us just as we think we have it in our grasp.
And then there is the glass half full/empty chatter. Seriously who cares about full or empty? Change is the only constant. In fact it’s a trap to believe that you will be happier if you cultivate “a glass half full” type of personality. The “glass half full positive thinking vibe” doesn’t work. Like happiness, positive thinking is always in flux depending on your circumstances. For how can you think positively without negativity being just around the corner to bite you on the bum.
Ultimately we have to accept that happiness blows in our direction because of the way we prime ourselves. Happiness is a byproduct of our ability to create fulfilment and find solutions to our problems. To alleviate unhappiness we need not strive to create positive, happy goals. But we do need to detach as much as possible from the positive and negative pushings and shovings of life and simply be. So in our glass, the water is exactly half the total amount the glass can hold.
And fulfilment is the key. It fills your life like a breath of fresh air. The pursuit of happiness is a struggle that creates mindful clutter making us miserable. Fulfilment lingers and dives deep in your soul bringing clarity and joy.
So the idea is to create this deeper sense of fulfilment. And you do that by as much as possible doing what you love to do – in a broad sense. You won’t love all of it because cultivating fulfilment suggests that at times you deliberately do things that are the opposite of happiness. It is entirely natural to find us rubbing shoulders with adversity – taking on a bit of pain because we want to explore. That’s the challenge. It’s what keeps us creative and enthusiastic. We just have to make sure we are not shunted off into destructive behaviours – we all intuitively know the things that take us down that path. But we all intuitively know the things that trigger an enduring sense of joy – so we naturally drift towards those.
A few salient points:
I mentioned problem solving because it is important for fulfilment. A big part of problem solving is to be continually working on yourself – exploring new things and enjoy getting things sorted. At times step back and analyse where you are and how you are travelling. And sometimes it’s just reminders – things you have heard before but just needed to hear again because you got off balance – like the waffle I am going about here. (sorry I laugh – I don’t really consider it waffle, it just sounded funny). But don’t overdo the focus on problems, as ultimately life is a reality to be experienced.
Happiness and the social media trap
Social media gives us insights into the pursuit of happiness. Recently I started an Instagram account. I was getting followed by loads of positive, happy people wanting me to follow them back. If I didn’t, I was promptly unfollowed. As after all, 19 year old Jessica in her scantily clad bikini at the pool, gushing on about the positive vibes of life is highly unlikely to be interested in my nature photography. So social media doesn’t grant one happiness – the obsession with it does the opposite.
Money and a life that’s shared
People who say money doesn’t make you happy don’t have any. Or they have a lot and they are being patronising. Of course having money can make you happy at times. But it won’t automatically grant you fulfilment. That’s because fulfilment depends on how the money is earned and shared. I have friends who just bought a beach house and they are delighted. But they work hard on their creativity to earn the money to be able to have the freedom to enjoy their material gains. They understand that the material possessions are secondary to people in their lives. It’s not the money that got them the house but the striving to better themselves and the family and friends around them that they share their life with. That’s important. A fulfilled life is a life that’s shared. An unhappy life is one where you have money but it’s piled up and festers or spent on superfluous crap that clutters up your life.
Blessings and may fulfilment attach itself to your leg and never let go
Chris J Wild