We live in a culture, that thrives on happiness. It seems like every time you flip on the TV, listen to the radio, or read a blog, you hear someone say, “I just want to be happy”. Happy with their career, happy with their spouse, happy with their kids, happy with their life. At times, I wonder if being happy, is more important than food, shelter, and love. I think, at times, it all sounds very self indulgent. Considering all the suffering that goes on in the world, that all some people want, is to be happy. But, it really does seem to be a basic human drive. Ever wonder how to find happiness.
I think we hear it a lot in western culture, because we are so very lucky to live in a prosperous, civilized country. For the most part, the majority of us are well taken care of in terms of basic human wants. Food, shelter, and family. Not everyone, but most. After you’ve achieved those things, what do we look for next? It would appear, to be happiness. Of course, having basic needs met doesn’t mean happiness. You can have a great house, plenty of money, and an amazing car, and still not be happy. You could hate your job, despise your spouse, and generally just fight with your kids day in and day out. So, what does one do to find happiness?
Eating may make you feel good. Drinking is more than likely to make you feel happy, for at least a little while. Television, smoking, the internet, drugs, gambling, porn, and a cornucopia of other addictions may also give your feelings of euphoria, and happiness in the short term. But it’s all very short term. It’s never a permanent solution to your overriding sense of unhappiness. When used as a distraction, and in moderation, these things actually do to improve our lives. They allow our minds and bodies to escape, relax, and recharge themselves. That’s OK. But, when those distractions begin replacing or interfering with the important components of our lives, we have a problem.
When they affect our jobs, our family relationships, and our sense of worth, serious problems can result. Working in your own business, and as your own boss, on your own, can can make your very vulnerable to happiness inducing activities. You have more control of your life, and are less answerable to bosses, and other colleagues. If for instance, your business starts to fail, and nothing you do seems to fix it, your far more likely to turn to other forms of happiness inducing activities. It does seem to be a basic need.
For example, on days that are particularly frustrating, I find myself eating a lot more. And not those healthy foods. But the junk stuff that tastes so good, and makes me feel happy. Comfort foods, they’re often called. And, once I start it seems like there’s no stopping. These days for instance, it’s right around Halloween, and I know there’s all kinds of littlelying all over the house. And I know, once I try just one, I can’t stop myself at 2 or 3 or 4 or 5. It really is an addiction. A quest for happiness. Because of my own food addiction, whenever I see an overweight or obese person, I often think there goes someone not happy with their life. They’ve substituted excessive food into their life to make themselves happy. In the long term, it only makes things worse.
The real trick here, is to find happiness in the most important, core parts of your life. That means, your family, your job, your spouse, and your friends. If your not finding happiness in your core activities, then your far more likely to substitute one of those short term fixes into your life for happiness. The solution, is not in forcing yourself to go on a diet, or watching less television. The solution is to find happiness in the big things in your life. If you hate your job, give some serious thought to what you really want to do, and do it. If your marriage is horrible, either work hard to fix it, or move on. If your extra curricular activities and group of friends aren’t making your happy, then change them. That’s easy. The first, and hardest step, is to recognize where your happiness is derived from. After that, it’s all up to you.