Happiness is something that all of us want. However, what may be happiness to one person may not be for another. Why? I recently asked several people of different ages what happiness meant to them and I got some very different responses. Some said that happiness is security and/or love, others said that it is having everything that they need in life. Others were even more vague and said that they weren't really sure what would define happiness.

As Americans, we seem to connect happiness with material things. For instance, some might say that "if I win the lottery, I can be happy forever". Winning the lottery may bring an initial feeling of elation and joy but will it bring "happiness forever"? I don't think so. I've also heard some people say that "someday, I'll find happiness." Is it lost? No, it's right around us and inside of us. We talk about happiness as if it were some kind of thing. Not so. Happiness, in my opinion, is not external. It's internal, it comes from how we feel, think and express ourselves. Rich, poor, young or old, everyone can experience happiness. It's a choice.

Happiness is not the absence of failure or discomfort. Our first mistake is trying to erase all in our lives that is uncomfortable, unpleasant or painful. That's impossible. We all identify with feelings of rejection, injury and pain and long for happiness in which no such feelings can arise. As Freud once pointed out, even intense pleasure is tinged with unhappiness since it all must come to an end. Isn't this true? We have all been very elated at one time or other, such as a birthday party, a promotion or an A+ on a test, but does that feeling last forever? It becomes less intense and we start to adjust. It adds to our feelings about ourselves and how we think in the future.

As long as we strive for only a sense of prolonged well-being, no lasting happiness is possible. Rage, envy, sadness will always interfere. Real life has it's ups and downs and these problems inevitably enter our lives from time to time.

Therefore, changing our perspective and view of ourselves may be what brings inner development and contentment. We just don't see all the other perspectives around us. Only by uprooting our own self centeredness can we experience some happiness. Things are not happening just to me. Things happen to everyone. Life is a struggle and we all stumble from time to time.

A sense of happiness is created by us alone. Our aim should be the fulfillment of our dreams, accomplishment of what we set out to do, and living our lives as we want to live them.

We often see our dreams only in terms of big, enduring life goals and fail to see the little day to day tasks that we do. We neglect the fact that having our day run smoothly is the fulfillment of a wish to be more in control of our lives. Being aware of what we accomplish each day, regardless of how trivial or menial, can be uplifting and gives us a sense of purpose and freedom. We no longer feel trapped when we truly appreciate what we do in our daily lives.

Happiness is the ability to take all the bumps and bruises of day to day life with an open mind and heart. Our perspective and attitude have everything to do with our own happiness of which we are all capable of developing. If we want to be happy, we will be happy. Whether we think we are happy or not, we are right!

Copyright 1994,1995 Lovina Pivin
Back to Article Index