Searching for happiness seems to be one of the goals of life. Parents often say “I just want my children to be happy!” which is, of course, a very noble thing. How do we make someone happy? That’s a difficult question. How do I make myself happy? That’s something I struggle with all the time. I have this feeling that if I just do this thing and that thing for long enough, then maybe that will lead to happiness. Recently, I’ve become aware that I’m searching for happiness in all the wrong places.
Searching for happiness by trying to make other people happy
It’s taken me a long time to realise that trying to make other people happy doesn’t mean it will make me happy. Kind of obvious really, even using simple mathematical style logic, if I make Person X happy, then only Person X is happy. This act doesn’t have any direct effect on my happiness. Of course, it might make me happy if I make someone else happy, but it can also cause resentment and despair (it shouldn’t, but it can).
Searching for happiness by hoping others will do things to make you happy
The next mistake I realise I’ve been making for a long time is to hope that others will do something for me that will make me happy. Sometimes this might work out, but most of the time it doesn’t. I often think that if Person Y would just do X, then I’d be happy. What a silly thought process. Firstly, I can’t control what anybody else does, and most of the time they won’t do what I’m hoping, and that then makes me upset more often than happy.
Searching for happiness by being better than others
The classic examples of searching for happiness by being better than others are competitive sports people, workers wanting a promotion and people searching for power. This can also be found in religions and belief systems (including special diets) where a person is expecting to find happiness if they can be “better” than other people. Again, what a silly idea. Whether someone is “better” depends on how you measure it and can mean different things to different people. Also, nobody is fundamentally better than anyone else. Being “better” is just a mirage.
Why put your happiness in the hands of others?
The obvious conclusion to all this is that our happiness cannot depend on anybody else. It’s “our” happiness after all. We’re the only ones that can feel “our” happiness and we are the masters of it. We can’t allow other people to have any effect on it.
We have to be in control of our own happiness
So, now I realise I have to be in control of my own happiness even though, for the most part, I’ve been living my life trying to find happiness through the reassurance and acknowledgment of other people. No wonder I’ve been struggling. If I’m now in control of my own happiness, what do I need to do?
What do we need to be happy?
Please take a few minutes to go through this thought experiment. Try sitting still – doing nothing – close your eyes – ignore all input from your senses – ignore what you hear, feel through your skin, smell, taste – and now the hard part, stop thinking – don’t think about anything…
Now, who are you?
What can make you happy or unhappy? (careful, don’t start thinking now!)
In this state there is no such thing as happiness or unhappiness, you just are. You are simply being. You are your fundamental self, peaceful, content, unworried, and because of all of this, there’s a fundamental joy.
It’s this fundamental joy that’s your true essence.
Now, when you start thinking again, and pay attention to all your bodily senses, you’ll start perceiving lots of things that break your fundamental joy and introduce unhappiness. This is life as we know it.
We don’t need to search for happiness at all
There’s no need for us to search for happiness. It’s more a matter of avoid things that break our fundamental, true peace and joy. The world we live in throws unlimited things at us that break our peace and joy, and make us feel unhappy.
There is no need at all to be searching for happiness. We have had it all the time. It’s always there. Let everything else go (easier said than done) and we can enjoy it, and each of us is in complete control of doing that.
Related Links – Searching for Happiness
- I’ve known all of this for a long time, but I seem to forget about it. For example, take a look at this post that I wrote way back in 2016 – What Really Matters?
- 9 Places Unhappy People Look for Happiness – from Joshua Becker at becomingminimalist.com
Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear what you think.