“Hey Noah, how do you define happiness?”
Let’s just dive right in with the deep stuff, why don’t we?
For most people, happiness is an elusive feeling. At best, it’s a short-lived exclamation of “I’m so happy right now!” when something great happens. You got accepted to the program of your dreams, your best friend came to visit, your spouse-to-be says yes, you went to an amazing concert, you got the job you just interviewed for…you get the point.
Everybody wants to be happy, but few know how to get happy. Often, it’s something in the not so distant future. How many times have you heard (or even said) “I’ll be happy when…”
- I get married.
- I get divorced.
- I land a job.
- I quit my job.
- I move to a different city.
- I graduate college.
- I get a boyfriend/girlfriend.
- I buy a new car.
- I go on vacation.
- I move in with my roommate.
- I move out of this place.
I could keep going. So could you. The problem with this thinking is that it puts your happiness in the hands of others. Happiness is not what happens to you; it’s how you react to and respond to what happens to you. But to really define what happiness is, you first have to understand how to achieve it.
Happiness is a moment. It’s one you remember, chase, or live in. For some it’s a memory, for some it’s a dream, and for others (the enlightened ones), it’s a state of mind.
Happiness is not a destination; rather, it’s a journey. Happiness is an attitude. The ultimate reality is that happiness is a choice.
If you wake up thinking that your life sucks, you’ll look for evidence all day long to prove yourself right. And you’ll find it.
Choose to be happy, and you’ll suddenly discover all the reasons you need to keep a smile on your face and gratitude in your heart.
I don’t know where I heard this, but it has stuck with me for a long time. Years ago I was told that if you ask elderly people when they were most happy in their life, they almost always said their 30’s were their best years. If you think about it, the answer makes sense – it’s a time when many people settle down with a family, settle into a career, and start putting a few bucks in their pockets. But in this study (or maybe it was just a story) one elderly person answered differently. When they were asked, “When were you most happy in your life,” they answered, “Right now.”
It’s a bit cheesy. And maybe it’s not real. But if it’s not true, it should be. Because that’s an attitude. That’s a choice. And it’s a choice I make each day. It’s one I hope you do, too.