The quest for happiness is at least as old as the ancient world. Former president Thomas Jefferson saw the need to have the right of pursuit of happiness written into the US declaration. It seems not to have worked as the USA is ranked only 17th in the 2013 world happiness report. Australia is placed 10th at least.
In most societies people have more than ever before. They are healthier and wealthier than 100 years ago. They get older and possess more. However, the majority does not seem to get happier. How come? There are countless guidebooks out there about how to become happy. I guess, reading books is not sufficient. Something in our minds and perceptions needs to change.
“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”
Happiness is hardly something we can pay for. It is one of our basic emotions that is mainly caused by external stimuli; something that triggers a happy making memory (smell, sound, thought, image).
As all emotions, the feeling of happiness to does not stay for long. It is a rather brief event. Too bad also: Just wishing to be happy doesn’t work. Happiness is not a goal of evolution (survival is!) – it is a reward. We therefore can strive towards happiness by developing a certain mind-set.
How to be Unhappy
We are likely to feel unhappy when we compare, lose something, have too much choice or high expectations. When we compare ourselves, our achievements or the things we own with anything we believe is superior we open the door to frustration. When our looks, cars and jobs are perceived to be less good, unhappiness lurks around the corner. When we lose something that we have been too much attached to, we feel sad. Facing a huge variety of one product type in the supermarket (spreads, yoghurts etc.) makes us feel overwhelmed and a bit helpless.
We spent lots of time finding out whether there is something better, cheaper, healthier only to surrender and buy what we buy most of the time anyway. Finally, when we expect our footy team to win or our partner to remember anniversaries we often feel let down afterwards. It seems almost impossible not to turn to the road of unhappiness eventually.
Your Culture and Your Happiness
On top of all this come cultural habits, use of language and spiritual rules. With culture we inherit the winner-loser game. The winner get’s it all and their supporters radiate too. In case of losing all involved suffer. Research found that in regards to language we tend to use more negative than positive terms. Messages send to children are predominantly negative (no, don’t, stop etc.). Not to mention the media with its daily negative news. A business model that is based on the perception that bad news sells best is aligned with depressing rather than good feelings.
“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it somewhere else.”
Happiness comes from inside. It is triggered by external information (positive feedback, reward, compliments, smiling faces, laughter and gratefulness of others). It is the brain however that produces the happy hormones that lead to the feeling of happiness. These external triggers are a response to what we have done before. Hence it is our deeds that lead to the reaction our brain translates into a feel good state. So, no one is responsible for our happiness but us.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
If Gandhi was right then we can learn to be happier. We can learn to become aware of our thoughts and then change them. We can also became aware of how we talk, what words we use and then use better, more friendly and nicer ones. If then our action is driven towards harmony in our jobs, families and friendships – growing happiness will be the result.
miamo® happiness retreats will be on offer 2nd half of 2015