Is Happiness Always an Illusion?

We know what creates happiness don’t we? Whether it be the simple things in life, like walking the dogs, a nice meal with friends and family, or perhaps it’s the larger things like our work or relationships; we know what makes us happy. Perhaps for you it’s security that works: a nice home, enough food and sufficient money to have what you want and need.

All of these things create a feeling that we call happiness. On a physical level our activities release certain chemicals (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins) into the brain, creating our happy feelings; we’re happy because our brain is telling us we are.

“Scientist have of course measured this and can now manufacture these chemicals, (drugs) and once in the bloodstream, they actually bypass those things we need to be doing in order to feel happy. So being happy is a physical thing we can measure.”

With this in mind, can happiness ever be an illusion? If we’re creating the chemicals associated with happiness, (ether externally administered or within our own bodies) this must mean that happiness is tangible and real; surely there is never an illusion? If we feel it, we are!

All things considered, and on a slightly different track, we now know all about the placebo effect: feelings can be created through administering the placebo of a sugar pill. As such, the effect of happiness is created by the belief we’ve been given a pill. In this respect we can see that happiness is always an illusion simply created within the mind through belief. We believe that certain things need to be happening for us to be happy. When we believe something works its the belief making it so.

Going back to our opening examples, if we’re unable to walk the dog, or spend time with friends and family, and we believe these things lead to happiness, surely without them, it follows we’ll be unhappy? To explain we can use a certain group of people as example: prisoners. Are all prisoners unhappy?

We know there’s currently a lot of self-harm and depression in our prisons, and so is it the case the removing a person’s liberty, always leads to unhappiness? Actually, no, this is not the case, some people are actually happier in prison, than they were in the outside world. In particular those who’ve been institutionalised.

“One might say, that to a greater or lesser extent, we’ve all been institutionalised, and our happiness is simply the consequence of what we’ve come to expect from life, and what kind of life we need to be living, in order to be happy.”

Depression in the outside world is on the increase also, and considering our quality of life has never been better, we might want to wonder why. Perhaps old beliefs are beginning to break down and we now need some new ones.

Try this one. It’s my belief that happiness is a state of mind that can be found no matter the circumstances or quality of life. That might seem an odd assertion, however, this kind of positive mental attitude (PMA), is achieved when we have this fundamental understanding:

“Happiness already exists within us and is found (released) through the change and challenges we set ourselves. Contrary to this, beliefs are often the false, illusory root to our failing happiness.”

When it comes to depression we can say that this is simply a symptom of feeling stuck. Even prisoners are able to escape depression once they’ve been given sufficient challenge and variety. Exercise, for example, is a popular activity in prisons, as this helps to release the chemicals mentioned earlier, and also sets competition and challenge between inmates.

Further to this, it could be said, the type of people who find themselves incarcerated in our prisons, have confused beliefs on life, and once they’re made to feel safe, with sufficient challenge and variety, this is all that’s needed for them to feel some kind of contentment. Potentially imprisonment has challenged (but not changed) their beliefs, and so once released back into the wide world, confusion sets in again, causing them to reoffend.

Happiness is often an illusion maintained through lifestyle

Coming back to the illusion of happiness for a moment, let’s consider the average man and what he needs to be doing in order to feel happy. How about spending the day watching television, does this work? How about working all week living with the expectation of watching his local football team at the weekend, followed by a few beers when out with his mates? Is this man happy?

The average man would probably tell you that he’s okay with this, and he’d be telling you the truth. Provided his beliefs for happiness are being fulfilled, all is well. His expectations (beliefs) may well be that he must work all week, in order to afford seeing his local team and buy beers later, and when this is the case, he’s sorted. For the average man problems can begin when this pattern is threatened. For the average man, security and stability are the linchpin to his happiness. I would consider these beliefs to be illusory.

“I say this, because there simply wouldn’t be enough variety and challenge in this kind of life, for it to lead to happiness. Once a man raises himself above average, his old beliefs break down into illusory, leading to frustration, dissatisfaction and depression.”

And so to sum up, happiness will be a failing illusion under certain circumstances:

1, When induced by manufactured drugs

2, When governed by old and average beliefs

3, When driven by possessions, habits (good or bad) and security, rather than challenge and change

Happiness is real, lasting and tangible when:

1, We understand it’s ‘released’ from within through challenge, change and variety

2, We’re able to push aside our fear of losing the illusion of security

3, We recognise how the average man imprisons himself through his beliefs

Breaking free? Find true happiness and do so.