What Is Happiness, Really?
By Guest Blogger Heather Matthews
Let me start this article by saying this…
Happiness is not that happy feeling you get every time you’re laughing so hard it makes your tummy ache.
It is only a part of that, and it is more than that.
Before I get to what it is, let me first show you what it is not:
Being happy does not mean you won’t suffer anymore.
Think of someone you know that is happy and successful.
Do you think that person is not experiencing any suffering anymore?
He’s got all this money, he’s got all these connections and all these resources. He can solve his problems easily. Right?
Well, maybe. Maybe he can solve his problems easier than what is required out of us. But that doesn’t mean he’s not experiencing suffering anymore.
Being happy does not mean you always have that joyful feeling.
Imagine a day full of laughter, 100% of the time, 100% of the time. Fun, right?
But do you think this is even possible? Your mind will bog you down with stress no matter how good your day is.
Being happy does not mean you turn your back on your problems.
To follow up on my first point, running away won’t make you happy. It will just make the problems worse.
Now that you know what happiness is not, then what is it?
Life is suffering. You might have heard that phrase before. It’s from Buddhist teaching. And it’s true. I’m not telling you this to break your rose-colored glasses and be an all-time pessimist.
Happiness is finding something worthy to suffer for.
Doesn’t sound right? Let me rephrase…
Happiness is about finding and sticking to your WHY.
Now, you’ve heard that before, I assume.
Let me tell you a story about Johnson…
He’s a great guy, winning small tennis competitions here and there. But when I say winning, I mean he gets the podium, but he just can’t get the gold medal.
And he’s always frustrated about that. It saps out his happiness. He trains, he always does.
But he trains in frustration, anger, jealousy, and anxiety.
He’s not emotionally healthy. And it’s because he thinks of happiness the other way around.
“If only I can get that gold, if only I can stand in the first place, then I’ll be happy.”
Now that will bring unhappiness to him, and everyone who thinks the same way.
Drop your IBHW and IO mindset.
I’ll be happy when… or If only this and that… then I’ll be happy.
Take a complete U-turn and realize that you can be happy now.
When I told that to Johnson, it was a hard pill to swallow. His mind came up with reasons to protect him from the unknown.
He was baffled, “how?”.
But soon he realized the answer. He took his pain and his suffering and decided that it’s worth it. Because he loves tennis. He loves training, he loves competing.
Now, he still gets 2nd place. He only won the gold twice since the last we talked. But he’s happy.
He’s still suffering and still in pain while he’s training. But that suffering and pain are just pushing him to train harder and train smarter. That’s why he got the gold twice.
And I know he’ll keep working on it as long as it’s rooted in his values that he loves tennis that much. That he can endure the suffering, the pain, and push forward.
He still gets heartbroken whenever he loses a match…
He still feels the feeling he should feel, sadness, pain, and a little bit of grief. But he gets over that. And while he’s in that stage, he knows he will get over that. And he does.
This might seem like a boring cycle for someone like us because we might not love tennis as much as Johnson does.
But this cycle of suffering, accomplishment, and fulfillment means happiness to him.
Happiness is also tied into fulfillment by the way. And fulfillment will only come if you’re working for something worth it. Even if it entails suffering, pain, and hurdles along the way.
You won’t be able to eradicate your problems. You can’t live pain-free. But you can be happy.
In fact, happiness is easy.