Week 5: Let's Reflect on Happiness
Congratulations, WE HAVE ACHIEVED HAPPINESS!!! Just kidding; but we made it through January! How wild is that? And hopefully you’ve got some takeaways from “happiness” in general.
For starters remember, happiness is a feeling — and we are full of feelings.
While I was researching some insightful quotes on happiness I came across this one:
“You cannot achieve happiness. Happiness happens and is a transitory stage. Imagine how happy I felt when I got relief from bladder pressure. How long did that happiness last?” - Fritz Perls.
While I don’t really know who this old dude is (some German psychiatrist apparently…), I do get his thinking. Happiness like all emotions is temporary and maybe even fleeting. And that’s okay.
I’ve learned that if you have to try to be cool, you will never be cool (trust me, I’ve tried). In the same way, if you have to try to be happy, then you will never be happy. The key to finding happiness is to stop looking for it.
In her research, Brene Brown found that people who were genuinely joyful in their lives didn't so much seek happiness but were willing to feel gratitude for the moments of joy they experienced.
What this implies is that finding happiness is not achieved in itself, but rather it is the side effect of a particular set of ongoing life experiences. This gets mixed up a lot, especially since happiness is marketed so much these days as a goal in and of itself. Buy X and be happy. Learn Y and be happy. But you can’t buy happiness and you can’t achieve happiness.
It’s interesting when we talk to people who seem content with life. The ones that feel the most fulfilled are not necessarily the ones with the three figure salary or the Muskoka cottages, they’re the ones who have learned to let go of the need to feel happy all the time and have not only accepted the ups and downs that come with being alive but have also come to appreciate them. This mindset and behavioural shift has helped them lean into uncertainty, embrace emotions (both positive and negative), and adapt to their environment with intention and meaning.
And let’s face it, that takes courage. And that’s something tangible we can practise daily and carry with us throughout the year. It can be as simple as being the first to speak up during a meeting, trying new food, signing up for an online class, or having a vulnerable conversation with a friend. Over time, these small acts of bravery help us take leaps that may be holding us back. We learn that fear is never as bad or as big as we can make it in our heads. More often than not, unexpected joy is found on the other side.
Happiness should not be your goal, nor an end state, but a way of being. It may sound like a tough ask in a world of uncertainty. But when you change your understanding of what it means to be happy, you may notice that you start to feel it much more. As we leap into the second month of the new year, take a page from my girl Elsa and let it go.