Happiness, like love, is a transient emotion. Like all emotions, they come and go with the ebb and flow of life – all the time. Whilst it is true that ‘what we focus on gets bigger’, happiness is not an actual ‘thing’ in itself. We cannot see it, to focus on, and despite temporary impulse purchases, we definitely cannot buy happiness.
Life can be really difficult. Everyone has hardships, illness, loss, and stress to contend with. We can easily find reasons to be unhappy if we look for them, so better not to look for them. Better to look for happiness, however, therein lies the problem. As it is in the pursuit of happiness that actually prevents us from obtaining it.
The secret to finding happiness, therefore, is not to seek it at all, but to pursue three of its closest cousins. The first relative is contentment. Contentment doesn’t fight. It just is. The way to contentment is much easier because it requires less and not more of you and your efforts. Contentment exists right now in this moment. To achieve contentment, slow down, sit still, think for a moment – count your blessings. You have the chair you are sitting on, air, access to water and food. The air is yours for free. Breathe in as much as you want. Relax. If you put all your worries to one side for just a moment, you have opportunities. And more than that, you have freedom.
The second relative to happiness is contribution. Sometimes, we can think that we must perform huge saviour-like acts; observable, quantifiable, magnanimous gestures that have a visible impact on improving the well-being of others. The truth, is that true acts of compassion are almost invisible. A smile at a stranger has the power to save a life. An email of thanks. A door held open. Or a silent gift, are all acts of contribution. We don’t need a job description, a badge, title or order from anyone else. We put ourselves in service to others. Contributing to other people’s well-being in the smallest of ways has the power to create the greatest improvements for everyone. We find our ‘why’ when we help others out. With a ‘why’ we always find a way.
The last ‘C’ to finding happiness is choice. The bottom line, unfathomable though it may initially seem, is that we can actually choose to be happy. Without the use of mantras, excessive, often unrealistic positive thinking, written notes to the self, hypnotherapy or any other intervention from anyone else at all, we can simply decide that we have had enough of having enough and now we are going to choose to be happy. Despite all that we have to contend with, it is possible to activate a shift in perception, over to a mental base in the mind where we consciously choose to reference our experiences from now on, against a platform of happy.
If happiness is the elusive butterfly, then the three ‘C’s make up the net that helps us find it. Happiness is a by-product emotion that we experience when we are doing something else. Find something to be grateful for. Think of a way to give someone else even the smallest help today. And choose to think, that even though life happens, the air, the actions, the thoughts, and decisions are ours, and a millisecond shift in perception is all that is required to help us realise that we are happy after all.