Latest posts by Hessa AlEassa (@Hessa_AlEassa) (see all)
- Everlasting Happiness – What Is It? And How Can We Attain It? - January 24, 2018
- Emotional Abuse Is Not Acceptable – #ThisIsAbuse (@dfwac) - January 3, 2018
- A Closer Look At Mental Illnesses - August 23, 2017
What does it mean to be happy? Is it only the feeling of joy as many of us think? And how can we reach this state of happiness in life?
She was awake when all of the other souls were asleep. Her mind was occupied by thoughts that made her feel suffocated. She decided to open the window to inhale some fresh air. She looked throughout the window to see the dark night filled with bright starts, which resembled her inner self that was gloomy but had a glimpse of hope. She closed her eyes and prayed, “I wish I can find my way to happiness in this tough life.” With a believing heart that her prayers will be heard, she closed the window and went to sleep.
All beings are in a constant search for happiness. This quest started long ago since the beginning of life on earth. According to Blaise Pascal “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” (Randy Alcorn, 2017)
To understand the reason behind this continuous search for happiness, we need to understand what does it mean to be happy. Many individuals think that happiness refers to the sensation of joy or happy moments in life. However, according to psychologists, happiness is defined as the state of wellbeing and contentment. It is about living a meaningful life filled with deep satisfaction. So how can a person have this deep satisfaction? And what fills individuals with happiness in life?
To answer the above questions, I have conducted interviews with eleven individuals aging from 10 to 50 years old. The understanding of happiness differed from one individual to other. It mostly circulated the concepts of being rich, surrounded by family and friends, being free without restrictions such as work and school, practicing hobbies, and following dreams and passion in life. All of the mentioned sources of happiness apply to many individuals of the society. However, what they are not aware of is the fact that these moments of happiness are constrained by time and dependent on other factors.
For instance, in case of wealth and happiness, according to psychologists, once the basic needs such as food and shelter are met, money no longer adds extra value or happiness to an individual. It may help in having better life experiences by having a variety of options to choose from, but it doesn’t make an individual happier. Some might argue that when they have the freedom to buy anything they want such as a new house, car or the latest iPhone model they feel satisfied and happy. This may be true, however; after acquiring the item that they have always wanted, with time their levels of happiness drop and they will be searching for the next latest model to feel the same level of happiness (Taylor, 2015). The greatest evidence that happiness is not related to wealth is that there are many wealthy individuals who are depressed, and there are many individuals with a lot of miseries yet are deeply happy.
This brings us to the second argument which is that social surroundings bring happiness to one’s life. This statement is true, but what if these social surroundings were not there anymore, how will the individual be happy again? Spending quality time with loved ones is a temporary source of happiness that is dependent on the presence of others, and it fades when they are away. What has been proven by psychologists is that social surroundings affects one’s health but does not achieve everlasting happiness (Umberson & Montez, 2010).
If all of the above-listed sources of happiness are temporary, then what is the real source of everlasting happiness that leads to the state of wellbeing and contentment? According to the Greek Stoic Philosopher Epictetus (Haidt, 2006), “happiness comes from within a person and not from his or her surrounding circumstances.” This means that happiness is created within an individual’s mind. The external factors only “predicts 10% of one’s happiness and 90% is predicted by the way the individual’s brain processes the world around” (Achor, 2017).
Many of us think that we will be happy once we are successful, get that perfect job or marry the person we love. Which is not true, we should train our brain to realize that we are happy now with what we currently have and with whom we are.
Being grateful for one’s blessings and realizing that a person can be happy at this moment, with whatever possessions he or she acquires no matter what is the circumstance, is the true meaning of happiness. Happiness should not be entitled to a future that is not guaranteed, and it should not be dependent on other factors in life. If every individual lived by these terms, then they would reach happiness which is the state of wellbeing and contentment. Say it now to yourself “I am happy at this moment and I am grateful for all of the blessings I have.”
- Achor, S. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work/up-next
- Alcorn, R. (2017). All Men Seek Happiness. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.epm.org/blog/2013/May/27/seek-happiness
- Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. New York: Basic Books.
- Taylor, S. (2015, January 09). Happiness Comes from Giving, Not Buying and Having. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201501/happiness-comes-giving-not-buying-and-having
- Umberson, D., & Montez, J. K. (2010). Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/