All our decisions in life are motivated by the desire to be happy.
Even dysfunctional and destructive behaviors have the same underlying intention.
Except, the understanding of happiness they are based on is one that is inconsistent with true happiness.
You can desire to make money, believing that money can buy you happiness.
You can stalk a celebrity, believing the attention she gives you will make you happy.
You can stay in an abusive relationship, believing it’s your best chance at happiness.
You can seek revenge against those who have hurt you, believing that their suffering will make you happy.
You can avoid looking at your business account, believing that if you’re not aware of your financial problems, you can be happy.
You can lash out at those around you, believing that expressing your feelings openly and without reservation will make you happy.
Think of your own actions and the actions of those around you, and you will be able to notice the common intention they share.
The sad part is that we often desire happiness, but don’t know what it is.
We accept the definitions floating around us. We mimic the behaviors of others. We follow our own feelings to arrive at happiness.
But when we get there, we feel empty inside.
Happiness doesn’t feel the way we want it to feel.
Happiness doesn’t make us happy.
That’s because we’re chasing the mirage of happiness, and not happiness itself.
Happiness is a state that results from life-affirming actions.
When we do the things that advance our lives, and experience circumstances that promote our well-being, we get to experience genuine happiness, provided that we’re not distracted by false hopes and expectations that can rob us of truly appreciating life and celebrating our well-being.
Whatever you’ve associated with happiness, ask yourself: “Will this truly make me happy? Is it advancing my life in any way? Am I attaching happiness to the wrong thing?”
Money doesn’t guarantee happiness. Not having to worry about money is a crucial factor to happiness, and being able to buy the things you want without feeling deprived is also important.
But is that enough to make you happy? Are material possessions the only ingredients to happiness?
As a human being, you possess many different needs. You have Spiritual, Intellectual, Psychological, Social, Professional, Recreational and Physical needs.
Genuine happiness can be experienced by satisfying your human needs, growing and learning as an individual, contributing to other people’s happiness, and committing yourself to the values and actions that advance life and human well-being, rather than be caught up in the desires and behaviors that bring about a temporary and false sense of happiness that masks a great deal of suffering and emptiness within it.
There’s a great exercise you can do that will help you connect with your inner desire to be genuinely happy and to appreciate the happiness of other people, as well.
Look at the face of another human being. Someone you know, or a complete strange. Someone you love, or someone you hate.
While looking at their face, think of all the attempts they are making to be happy. Think of how they may act out of vulnerability. Out of ignorance. Out of confusion. Think of their weaknesses and their strengths. Their failures and their accomplishments. Their journey in life, with all its ups and downs.
You will experience a profound bond with that person, and sense the common intentions you both share, and the common struggles you both experience.
I use this exercise when I have a dispute with others. I notice myself judging their actions and character. But when I stop to think about their own struggles and their own desire to be happy, while looking at their face, I can’t help but to develop a connection and realize that most of our arguments and disputes are meaningless attempts to chase happiness where there is only a mirage.
By becoming consciously aware of your own intention to be happy and the intention of every other human being to be happy, you can set aside the differences you have with others, and work in ways that promote genuine happiness for all, without being swayed by false promises and empty hopes.