I was going to call this piece “Happiness is Overrated,” but that sounded a bit defeatist and I wondered if it would put people off reading it. “Roll up, roll up to read the misery blog!!”
We all aspire to being “happy.” There are hundreds of self help books and blogs assuring us of a clear path to that wonderful state. But what is “happy” anyway?
I have to admit to being something of a material girl and, in the past, the idea of owning a longed for piece of jewellery, new car or designer handbag would offer the promise of a state of happiness. If I just owned that one thing, my life would be complete, and I would be HAPPY. Of course, neither handbag, new ring, or car ever delivered that state for more than a day. The disappointment when the reality hit that nothing had changed, could be said to offer the opposite of what I was trying to achieve.
While I was investing my hopes of happiness in a new Mulberry bag, there are others who are hoping that a new/prospective partner will make them happy. How often have we heard, don’t put your happiness in anyone else’s hands? Going into a new relationship miserable, but expecting your new partner to make you happy, is putting a huge burden on them, so huge that the partnership is (pretty much) doomed to fail. Your happiness is your own responsibility, putting it on anyone else’s shoulders is unfair.
How do we measure whether we are happy? Do you need to have experienced happiness for a certain time to qualify as a happy person? Is there such a thing as a ‘naturally’ happy person ? There are people who are definitely born sunny, but does that make them a happier human, or just someone who is full of optimism? If we are trying to be constantly happy, isn’t that going to cause us disappointment (and therefore unhappiness) in the long run?
Let’s not forget that happiness is not a natural state for us to exist in. A state of happiness is like a holiday: You look forward to it, enjoy it immensely and then feel miserable for a while when it is over. But, you look forward to the next one…. If we were on holiday every day of our lives, that time would no longer hold any special joy, there would be nothing to look forward to and we would certainly not appreciate the experience.
So, instead of striving to that elevated state continually, I’m advocating aspiring to contentment. Yes, there will be happy days and sad days, but that’s life! Contentment is being at peace with ourselves, it’s about being fulfilled with our lot, and it’s very underrated in our society.
“Content is a state, whereas happiness is a moment” – Unknown
A quick glance at social media gives the impression that a everyone is “happy” all the time. I do worry about social media. I worry about the effect it has on me, on my children and those around me. Its such a fierce world out there! I have blogged before about the half truths we are seeing when it comes to everyone’s gilded and filtered ‘perfect’ lives. It is natural that young people in particular may believe that this a real and an accurate reflection.
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be” – Abraham Lincoln
Of course there is another side, we are supposedly living in the most caring age humankind has yet experienced, yet all around us, people are being absolutely vile to each other on social media. Mostly in the sense that users seem to be attacking what makes others happy! So, we are either trying to convince everyone that we are super happy ….or having a go at others because they are! Go figure!
Twitter, in particular has been an absolute revelation to me. There are some lovely people of course, but also incredibly malicious souls out there. I think they call it trolling, but it astounds me that some people live to try and rip apart someone else. I have not been the victim of such nastiness (yet), but have seen it too many times to count.
“Some days are just bad days, that’s all. You have to experience sadness to know happiness, and I remind myself that not every day is going to be a good day, that’s just the way it is!” – Dita Von Tees
So, is it possible to be generally content in this world we live in? As I mentioned in my blog, “52 things I have learned in 52 Years’, at the end of the day, there is only you. Take each day as a fresh pallet of opportunity and by all means aspire and look forward to those happiness highs, but accept and embrace the ‘everyday’.
I read somewhere that you don’t need happiness as long as you have peace. I like that idea. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for goals we have set ourselves, we absolutely should …but let’s work toward them whilst enjoying life today. There is a danger of falling into the trap of merely existing, as opposed to living, until we get to that higher state to which we aspire. Instead, why not accept we still have a way to go, but live for the journey as well as the goal. ❤️
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