What is happiness?

If there is one thing you can guarantee about anyone; then that is their desire to be happy. Whether you’re a child, parent, grandparent, regardless of your social status or achievements in life; it all boils down to what makes you feel good. But what does make you feel good? What is happiness?

It may appear selfish if that’s all we want but ultimately who would want to be unhappy or dissatisfied? Sometimes we look at others more fortunate and envy all that they have because that is what is missing in our own lives. But you have no idea what that person is craving in their life.

It’s not an easy concept to get your head around and many philosophers have spent a lifetime studying it, but happiness comes in many shapes and forms for people; it’s all bespoke to you as an individual. So let’s break it down.

Faith

Call it religion, God, the Almighty, a Superior Power – some people find happiness in their faith. They believe all will be well because they have faith in a Superior Being. It takes a strong-willed person to maintain true faith. Life has its ups and downs. When it appears all is lost or there is no way out, it can be difficult to have faith.

I’ve been there when I’ve questioned God and why certain things happen. But then when circumstances change for the best – and it almost feels like a miracle that I have made it through such a difficult time – my faith is restored. For me, a large aspect – if not the biggest aspect – of life is ‘faith’.

Some people may consider it a romantic notion. Others may shrug it off as nonsense. But remove the practical side of religion and ultimately we all have faith deep down that all will be well, or at least things will improve, otherwise we wouldn’t continue…right?

Family

We can’t help who our family is. Love them or loathe them, family has a huge influence on you as an individual. Regardless of the politics that every family has, you can’t deny that overwhelming feeling when you’re having a laugh with your relatives.

With age I’m realising how much family means to me, We may not always meet eye to eye, we may have different perspectives but we share memories that are priceless. That unifies us and maybe its my faith that helps me through the challenges that family bring with it.

Friends

Now if there is one thing we can choose in life then that is our friends – the family we choose for ourselves, We can rely on them to be there in celebration or in distress. They are advisers, entertainers, companions. You can always turn to them for a laugh, to make us happy.

Love

This list is in no particular order but for many the big ‘L’ word brings the biggest happiness. Of course there are many forms of love – love for you child, love for your parents, love for a sibling – but I’m referring to love for a companion, a soul mate.

That giddy feeling when you hear from them, the butterflies when you talk to them, the thought of making memories with them and maybe even starting a family with them…the emotion is like no other. But the heartbreak is the polar opposite.

It sounds cliche when people say their life won’t be the same without their love – but it makes such an impact that life literally changes when that love is lost.

Money

Ah! Money! We think its the answer to everything – a lavish lifestyle, house, cars, holidays – but if it was then wouldn’t every rich person be happy? And money, like all material things, is like an addiction – no matter how much you have, its never enough.

If we look at wealth instead then it incorporates so many other things – a wealth of respect, a wealth of love, a wealth of success – now we’re talking happiness!

Career

I’ve been raised with the ambition to study and start a career. From day one it was drilled in me that I would make something of myself. Moreover, as a Sikh my religion preaches making an honest living. So its no surprise I value a career.

It gives you a purpose, it helps you set goals, financially contributes to the foundations of your personal life not to mention your social life – seeing as we spend more time with work colleagues than family or loved ones.

The happiness you feel when you progress in your job or achieve something new is such a great feeling. I count myself lucky to wake-up and be excited to go to work because for me its not a ‘job’, I’m living my ambition.

Charity 

Recently I’ve come to realise how much satisfaction you get from helping others. Giving the gift of charity or support to someone in need can bring so much joy to others, and in turn make you feel so good. It makes me wonder if there is any such thing as a ‘selfless act’ because generosity makes you feel good (if you do it with a clean heart).

Expectations

One thing I have learnt with age is to remain satisfied – not necessarily happy but at least not unhappy – and this means not having expectations. Its when we expect something that we often end up disappointed. So by living on the premise of no expectations, no matter what the outcome we are either unaffected, or if the outcome is positive, then we’re happy. It’s not an easy concept to practice. Its a working progress!

Gratitude

Another thing I’ve recently come to understand, especially at times when I feel down, is to be grateful for what I do have. By focusing on what is missing or lost, we lose sight of what is right in front of us. We waste time and energy on what cannot be changed, and mope in negativity as a result. So what does it achieve? Whereas gratitude not only makes you happy for what you have but I’m a true believer in positive thoughts reap positive outcomes.

Life

There are lots of other things that make me happy – food, dance, shopping, travelling, music. When searching for happiness; a good starting point is to know unhappiness. If you didn’t understand how it feels to be unhappy, you would never appreciate or even recognise happiness. If you don’t know pain, how could you know pleasure?

Everyone is on their individual journey to find happiness, and that journey we call ‘life’. Each of us have taken different routes and our destinations are different. What makes me happy may not be enough for another.

‘Knowing your calling’ is a notion I’ve read about or seen in films. Maybe that is what I’m missing – the piece in my jigsaw to the pursuit of  happiness. I may discover it tomorrow, next year or it could take a lifetime. Who knows?

All I’m sure of is that there are many things that make me happy and spending a moment focusing on things that don’t is a waste – life is far too short.

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