It comes when you stop. For crying out loud, just stop what you’re doing for a moment, and ponder. What are you doing to make happiness?
What we’re all potentially doing is reaching. We’re planning and we’re thinking about that next thing. When we have free time, the question forms: what shall I do today?
When we compare ourselves, to the other animals of the world, there’s one thing that pops up: Choice. Our consciousness (as it is so far) gives us choice. We’re aware of the possible alternatives. We’re able to plan ahead.
We have an awareness, amongst many other things, of self, time, environment and feelings. We have control (to varying degrees) over our emotions and are able to exert influence over them. Our imagination creates future scenarios and we imagine how we might feel whilst within these imagined situations.
There are times when we no longer need to plan or think very much at all. We unthinkingly act because we know what’s made us happy in the past. Our past has quite literally taught us what to believe makes us happy and what happiness is. We automatically follow routines by remembering previous events where we’ve felt happy. The human mind does like familiarity.
It’s often these familiarities that cause us to become stuck. Staying with the same happy-habits and activities, over extended periods of time, creates dissatisfaction. The effect happy-habits have on us, start to wane, and we may even start to feel slightly depressed or stuck. Once we realise what’s missing, we inject a little variety into our lives, and put ourselves back on the road to happy feelings again. All is well for a while longer.
“We’re coping. We have survival strategies and coping mechanisms. When we stop, ponder and reread these understandings, some of us will see the problem.”
As touched on, what we come to believe makes us happy, obviously stems from past events where we’ve experienced happy feelings. We remember happy and we also remember sad. As such, from day to day, we make a conscious effort to avoid what we believe makes us sad and seek out those things which make us feel happy.
Consider for a moment what made you feel happy as a child. There are those of us, who had happy – if not joyful – childhoods, where happy feelings were predominant. It is, believe it or not, easier for these fortunate individuals to find happiness now as adults; it follows as a natural consequence of living a happy childhood. And so what of the less fortunate? What of those whose childhood was mostly devoid of happiness? Lonely children make lonely adults.
Consider how we feel when alone. It is a rare individual indeed who doesn’t need the company of others to feel happy. From personal experience, I can tell you, time alone for me when young, wasn’t so much ‘happy time,’ but was often just time away from the stress and fear of my dysfunctional family. I wasn’t necessarily happy whilst alone, however, it was the closest approximation of happiness I could find. It was time free from stress and fear. It remains the same today: when alone I’m neither happy or sad, I just feel less stress and fear. I do experience fleeting happiness when in the company of others though.
To help us better understand the happiness conundrum, it’s important we stop, and take the time to think about the methods we employed then, and how they compare to now. Those methods we used, or were taught as children, may be tired and worn by the time we reach adulthood. They may not of even been true happiness, and just the avoidance of sadness, fear or stress.
I feel that interacting with people, of a like mind, is one of the most beautiful and lasting methods of experiencing happiness. Sometimes we must go out of our way and break from our ordinary routines in order to find these people. Creativeness, that is removed from being too self-absorbed, is also very powerful. In addition to these suggestions, I think we should all look to find a little more contentedness through being more comfortable, within ourselves.
When we stop reaching out for happiness, and realise much of it is about internal contentedness – created when we’re loved by ourselves and others – the world will be a much brighter place. Lonely individuals struggle with this, simply because they have yet to really, deeply understand, how lonely they are from themselves. Understand who you are. Get to know, that deep within you, there is a beautiful child, longing to be loved by you.