How We Label Happiness

I bought a new ho use. I’m happy. I purchased my new favorite bag. I’m happy. I won the running competition. I’m happy. I got a raise. I’m happy. Someone complemented me. I’m happy. Most likely you have found yourself in this cause and effect spiral countless times in your life. We all have. It’s a completely normal and usual way of being. We have been conditioned to think this way. We have also been conditioned to explain this concept to ourselves and even justify its flawed existence. Why? Because it provides an answer to the question: where does happiness come from?

Every time we think or say the phrase that starts with “when I” and ends with “then I will” we are justifying and supporting this air grabbing dilution that happiness is within reach and we are about to grab it! This way of thinking and being is not good or bad. It’s not right or wrong. And it’s definitely not an all or nothing thing, which is why defining the ultimate state of happiness is a task none of us is quite able to fathom. 

But before we talk about where happiness comes from, let’s look at how we justify unhappiness.

How We Justify Unhappiness

Although its status is always “within reach” and never quite “reached” or it is reached but its effect is temporary, we write it off as fine because we rest in the notion that it is close enough. So we come to settle in the neither here nor there zone of following happiness but never walking alongside it. Based on the things we feel will make us happy we know what we need to do; We want to do what we need to do to get to our happiness but we are prevented by a higher, stronger force that is life.

Life happens to us. And when life happens we concur with whatever life tells us. In all honesty, how can we go against something so large as life, something so broad and strong yet so undefined as life? We decide the answer is: we can’t. So when life takes over in a way that does not line-up with our expectations and our beliefs and our mindset and our knowing, we grab on the thinnest, smallest thread called justification and we start justifying why things are the way they are.

We begin justifying why we are not happy, fulfilled, rich, beautiful, famous, right. We begin resenting our state of being so much so that we jump into the next level of genius and that is justifying other people’s success with life, in life, and equating that to their happiness and fulfillment. But the biggest flaw in this self inflicted vortex is our core belief that life was dealt to us. We were put in this life and we zone through it.

Turning it around

Yes, life may have been dealt to us. But as in any game it’s up to the player to shape and work the game, to find ways to stay in the game longer. So life is part the hand we were dealt and part the way we play. And those who find joy in playing the game are those we come to refer to as happy. For these individuals, happiness doesn’t come from being ahead and potentially winning the game –  winning the game comes as a result of their joy in playing the game. To them, happiness is playing the game.

I used to think happiness was something I would have in my life once I acquired the things I wanted and once I became who I wanted to become. I spent years in this dilution. And the more time I spent designing what I want and how I want it the more backwards things were going. Eventually I decided I was either doomed or I didn’t know how to play the game – I didn’t know how to play the game.

These days I know better! I know happiness comes from gratitude. This is the closest I’ve gotten to defining happiness – at least for myself, but feel free to adopt the concept. 

Actually happy

Gratitude helps open your heart to something warm, loving, gentle. And that is pretty darn much. Because when you know warmth, love, joy how can you be unhappy? Happiness isn’t a place to reach – you are already there; and it’s not a thing to achieve – you already have it. Happiness is a truth you open yourself to hearing. You own it. Open yourself to knowing you own happiness. It may not be the happiness you think the next person experiences, but it can’t be because it’s your happiness.

It’s almost like the ray of love and sunshine I talk about in the post on Gratitude. Happiness is something you breathe in. Open your heart, take a deep breath and consume happiness. The more you experience, the more you love, the more you enjoy the things you do on regular basis and express gratitude for being able to do them, the more happiness will find you and reward you.

The reward?

Not just temporarily feeling happy, not just knowing of happiness, but truly understanding it and becoming one with it. Appreciating it even during times you feel separated from it!