In Pursuit of Happiness

Christmas is right around the corner. Now is a time of year when many reflect on their lives, asking themselves: "Why am I not happy?" And "How do I find my happiness?" Why do we ask these questions so often?

The Essence of Happiness

What is happiness? This question cannot be answered in general. Happiness looks different for each of us. However, it is hard not to be influenced by the pictures of happiness that we are often presented in advertisements.

False Happiness 

There are many misconceptions of what happiness really is. Here are two:

  1. New = Happy. All you need is a new car, new gadget or new house to make you happy...
    The ancient philosophers discussed these ideas, and studies today confirm that things do indeed make us happy. Eventually our brain starts to take them for granted and we stop feeling so happy. That's why lottery winners stop feeling so happy after a year. They get used to their new lifestyle. 
  2. I am happy when things go the way I want. Getting our way is of course a wonderful feeling. There's only one problem. Objectively, we rarely have control of everything. 

Hunting for Happiness

We find happiness where we look for it. Just turn off the autopilot and start looking for everyday things. 

  • Every day we overlook lots of things that we could be happy about. So take another look at the little things. Consciously take time to enjoy your food or the sunset.
  • Everything is relative. When we start looking at what others have it is easy not to be satisfied with our own things. Make sure you take a moment to look at what you have that others don't. Take a moment to be grateful for hot water, heat and a roof over your head.
  • It makes no sense to focus on things you can't control. If you can't change it, let it go. 

Find Out What Makes you Happy

Often we strive for things that we generally believe make people happy. However, these might not be the right things for us. Think about what actually brings you happiness. Christmas is a great time to reflect on these ideas. 

Finally, what is more important? That you are actually, or that people think you are happy? Make sure you know the difference. 

The Pursuit of Happiness - a Trap?

Today everyone wants to be happy forever. They try to constantly purse their happiness. This obsession with the perfect life makes us unable to cope with small moments of unhappiness. Try to keep things in perspective.

The belief that happiness can be created will only lead to unhappiness. You happiness isn't something you find, happy is something you are. 

Ignore Your Wants and Focus on What You Can Give

Obsessing over material things or wishes makes us feel like we are lacking things, but focusing on the things that we already have makes us feel more satisfied long term. To grow and become better people try giving back to your community by volunteering. 

Christmas is a wonderful time to begin.