If we sit down and think about this, many different things will pop into our minds. Some people may say money, some may say health, some may say a happy relationship, and most people probably want all of the above and then some. But if we examine each thing and ask why we want it, we will find that there is something deeper we long for. Let’s take why we want more money, for example. Well the truth is, we need it to some extent to survive, but often we would like more because we want the finer things in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life or for earning money for a service or product that you have worked hard for. But why do we want the nice car or house, or in my case, designer shoes? Well, I think it’s because these things make us feel happy, at least temporarily.
My point is that everything we want in life somehow relates to us wanting to be HAPPY!
But did you know that according to the CDC, depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population? This is a day and age where we could make, have and achieve almost anything we could imagine, yet it has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. (http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm)
If you really think about it, how many of us can really honestly say that we feel peaceful and content? Many rich people will tell you that they are not necessarily fulfilled with the material possessions they own and many people are still lonely in relationships. If our happiness lies in something outside of ourselves such as titles, achievements, what people think of us and/ or material things, then what happens when these things get taken away? Many of us experience sadness, devastation, loneliness and many other negative feelings and reach for the next thing or person, only to repeat the cycle again. I am not saying that we should be paupers and live a life of solitude in the Himalayan Mountains. I am just saying that the external things in life are fleeting and will never make us feel the completeness that we long for.
What about having good health and well being? I will be the first to tell you that there is nothing wrong with having this. A healthy body and mind enables us to feel relaxed, expand our creativity and be able to be there for our loved ones. There is nothing wrong with having all these things in it of themselves, rather it becomes an issue when our happiness depends on them. When we NEED them.
The way to happiness is not through things or other people. The way to happiness is through you. Believe it or not, our core essence is happiness and joy. You may not feel this is the case, and many people don’t, but it is because so many of us have labeled ourselves as “not good enough” at some point in our lives and have gotten used to identifying with a negative notion of ourselves. The good news is, we also have the choice to remove that label, and shift our perspective. A perspective in which we are content with ourselves and do not need anything outside of us to fulfill us. So that the pleasures and highs in life complement our inner peace, but when things do get taken away from us we still feel OK. This is not always being positive either, because we are after all human beings, meant to experience the full range of emotions, in a balanced way of course. I love the quote by John Dryden “Beware the fury of a patient man.”
Happiness is the middle road. Getting to this point is a lot easier said than done, especially when many of us have spent so many years feeling so negative and depressed. The good news is, just as much as we can feel unhappy, we can also reach a content state as well. There is not a specific way and each person’s journey is different. I hope to share more posts in the future on how to get there. But for now I hope this article can give you some food for thought: What do you really want in life? What does happiness mean to you?