What is happiness?

Happiness: Half full? Half empty? Or just wholeness?

What is happiness? It’s the one question we should all ask ourselves. The Dalai Lama has given us a few pointers on what happiness is: compassion, forgiveness and helping others. But most importantly, he advises, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. ” Happiness is not something that can be plucked out of the sky, or something some ‘lucky’ people have that you don’t; it is produced through how you treat others and how you treat yourself. Happiness is a conscious decision.

Have you ever felt that you would be happy if you: met the love of your life, were thinner, had more friends, had more money, owned a bigger car, had a firm arse, had amazing boobs and could speak twelve languages? Yes. Me too. But where we often make the mistake with this type of thinking is that we consider ourselves unhappy until we have these things. Basically we can’t see ourselves as being without having– happiness is always something for us to achieve in the future, that will spring only if I have a set number of things (which by the way, is a never ending list that can never be fulfilled due to our striving nature). So following this logic, just as our lists of having can never be fulfilled, neither can our state of just being– the state of happiness!

As you will notice from the consistent deaths of incredibly talented musicians and actors in the modern, advanced and prosperous world, having it all does not mean you feel like you have it all. Those sensitive souls who follow the fame train perhaps got sick of the fact that it never stopped. Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson are a few remarkable individuals who’d been stretched emotionally and physically to the extent of death, the moment where you just can’t, or don’t want to strive anymore–the reason may lie in the idea that always looking at what you have, or don’t have stops you from reaching out to others. It demands that we look at ourselves too much; we get self-conscious, egotistical and do everything in our lives just to appear better than others. In this state we are unable to see the smile on the old man’s face in the morning, how good it feels to make a baby smile, or how the sun feels on our closed eyelids. These things are interactive and involve mutual happiness: of ourselves and others.

But genuine happiness has to become habitual. It’s the effort you choose to put into everything you do. We are more depressed in the modern world than we ever have been and the reason for this is our lack of productivity. Yes you can save time on washing clothes, on tapping an email rather than drafting a letter for a pidgin to deliver to the wrong house, or you can choose from one hundred and fifty varieties of ice-cream— but do these things really make us happy? Well, only if you can appreciate the time you save, the moments you can share eating ice-cream, or how much of yourself you are willing to give away.

I don’t think it’s so much a debate between optimism and pessimism, or whether people are doomed for seeing their pint as half-empty, or blessed if they see it as half-full, but more on whether they can see it at all— in the bigger scope of things. See unfortunately a lot of people will type the question: what is happiness? into google, hoping that a quick fire solution to all their ‘problems’ will be bullet pointed neatly on a page, packed like a Marks and Spencer’s ready meal for one—but it really isn’t going to happen. Ring your Nan, smell some flowers and in the style of the film, Amélie, listen to the sound of a crème brûlée cracking— as while you are doing these small things, you’ll be happy and content enough to make those bigger things happen in your life—falling in love, children and a couple of dogs, will only come when you are looking outwards, usually in the opposite direction.

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