Decoding Happiness

This topic had been weighing on my mind since long and today I am writing about it after this concept has become somewhat clear. In past two years, I went through one of the longest spells of sadness and gloom in my life. During this time, I tried all the tricks I could to bring happiness back into my life. But I repeatedly got mired into the cycle of expectations and conditions I had set for happiness. It dawned upon me that becoming happy is not an easy task. And then like most of us, I also started believing that happiness is not for everyone. It is a gift given to a very few. Some people are happy because their life is sorted and they get whatever they dream for, easily. But, is it really the story? Are all those people whom we see as happy souls really have everything sorted out in their lives?

What is Happiness

The dictionary meaning of happiness is ‘The state of being happy’, or a feeling of contentment to intense joy. Contentment and intense joy – although strangely connected to happiness, are quite different from each other in their existence and execution. If you are content, you may or may not rejoice loudly but you will be happy nonetheless. On the other hand, you may be dancing with joy in a moment but there will be anxiety lurking around the corner.

If you are having recurrent moments of joy and exuberance day after day, you may seem excited and happy to the people around you, but you may also be prone to anxiety when the excitement levels dip down. Until you are able to transform these moments of excitement into a subtle form of well-being that stays with you, you will never experience true happiness. True happiness is the feeling of contentment wherein you have peace in your heart and calm in your head.  

Many people think excitement is happiness, but when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace – Thich Nhat Hanh

Where do we find Happiness

We all wish and dream of a life where we will be happy forever. We see certain things in that life which we take to be necessary to be happy such as a big house, a lovely family, steady job, money, and love and respect from others. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we strive towards achieving these things to make our dream of happiness come true. We work hard, we compete, we study new things, meet new people, and just do everything under our control to achieve our happiness. We do get the moments of victory and joy but not very often these moments of exuberance transcend into long-lasting happiness.

May be this is where we are missing the point. We are searching for our happiness outside. We have linked our happiness to the outside world, appreciation and validation from others, and to the things that are to be acquired from the outside world like money, status, etc. As long as our happiness is dependent on others, we will never be happy. When we give control of our happiness in to the hands of other people or external factors, it can go either way. Because now there are two players and there will always be a winner and a loser. Happiness is not a game or a gamble that needs to be won or snatched.

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

Happiness is in the Action, not in the Result

The biggest factor that keeps us from being happy is the constant pressure on us to achieve our goals. Almost every day the fight is about ticking off the tasks from a To-Do list, our plans of success for today, tomorrow, and next year. We become so engrossed and tense in reaching the finishing line that we forget to enjoy the track. We see our happiness standing behind the finishing line whereas it is right here – in this very moment – when we are working and making things happen. We need to start re-programming our mind by shifting our mindset from results to actions.

We need to stop hanging your hopes on the results, success, and expectations. Instead of saying, I will be happy when:

  1. All my life goals are fulfilled
  2. All my friends and near ones will trust me, respect me, and adore me
  3. I will have a big house, a car, two exotic vacations per year, designer clothes, and everything that money can buy.
  4. I will pass an exam, get a promotion, or get appreciation from others.
  5. People around me will start understanding me and acknowledging my efforts.

We should learn to say:

  1. I am happy because I have goals to achieve
  2. I am happy because I trust, respect, and adore my friends and near ones.
  3. I am happy and grateful for how much I have right now.
  4. I am happy for my all the efforts I put into my work and studies.
  5. I am happy because I understand and acknowledge the efforts of people around me.

This shift in the mindset is all we need to do to feel good about ourselves and bring peace in our lives. And that’s what happiness is all about. This shift is from the expectations to contentment, from chaos to peace, and from stress to serenity.

It’s all in the Mind

Let me reiterate the idea of happiness that we have talked about till now:

  1. Happiness is not dependent on the outside world like weather, food, house, job, money, friends, etc.
  2. When you link your happiness to something or someone, you have already given away your life’s control.
  3. Moments of joy and exuberance should not be confused with happiness.

Happiness is not a wish or gift that someone can bestow upon us. Sometimes other person or their actions may give us our moments of joy but for happiness, we will have to work on ourselves. Happiness resides in our mind. It’s not outside and is not attached to some external factors. No matter what/how are the external circumstances, you can be happy if you choose to be.

Being happy doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude – Dale Carnegie

Happiness can be achieved by doing only one thing – we need to learn to be happy – Every. Single. Day. Happiness doesn’t come naturally to our mind. Our mind is perennially inclined towards negative thoughts and sadness. That is why, feeling low and uncertain, crying, and being depressed come very easily to us. But. it takes a huge effort on our part to be happy.  

How to Train our Mind to be Happy

Learning to be happy every day or training your mind to be happy requires tremendous effort. We need to train our mind to be strong – strong enough to let go of many things that affect us – ego, results, expectations. A strong mind will not get influenced by other person’s lifestyle, comments, and behavior. We need to constantly remind ourselves about all the good things that are happening around us.

The three golden rules for happiness are:

  1. Practice Gratitude – Be thankful for what you have.
  2. Give out what you Expect – Start giving the things you expect from others. You do not have control over other person’s behavior but you will be happy for your own deeds.
  3. Practice Mindfulness – Be aware of your mental health. Make efforts to have a calm, peaceful, and a strong mind by meditating and practicing gratitude.
Happy people people plan actions, they don’t plan results – Denis Waitley

Many heavy words or phrases that I have written in this blog command a separate blog for themselves. I shall explore more on those in my upcoming blogs.


A Quote to End With…

Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have.” – Doris Mortman


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