1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Most of us don’t need a definition to understand happiness. We’ve felt happiness many times throughout our lives. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t know what happiness felt like if we had not also felt sadness and despair.
We live in a world where society expects you to be happy 24/7. If you’re not happy, there’s something that needs to be changed.
Our society has an idea that if a job makes you unhappy, you leave that job and do something else. If the place you live makes you unhappy, you move. We grow up learning that the most important thing in life is to be happy. Some people go to great depths to find happiness.
For some, finding their “idea” of happiness isn’t so easy. Sometimes it isn’t possible to just quit that awful job or leave that awful town. And sometimes maybe the job or the town isn’t even the root of the unhappiness you feel, after all. Maybe those feelings of unhappiness are deeper than what our friends and family see on the surface.
We search for happiness every day. We trick ourselves into believing that material items and new adventures will make us happy. And they do, for a short amount of time. I remember the day I traded my car in for a brand new Jeep. I just knew this car would make me happy. I drove that Jeep all over town, beaming from ear to ear. However, the “newness” of my Jeep quickly wore off and I was left searching for the next thing to make me happy.
The problem with happiness is that you always think there is more out there.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I learned one of the most valuable life lessons of all. And here it is:
Happiness is not a destination.
Happiness is internal. You could have all the riches in the world, your own private island, and the love of your life sitting next to you naked on a beach chair with a Pina colada in your hand and still not be happy.
Happiness can’t be measured by what we have in life. Happiness comes from within. No one can make you happy but yourself. A relationship won’t make you happy. A new job won’t make you happy. Sure, it may be better than your old job, but if you can’t find happiness inside yourself, then there is no point in uprooting your life searching for that happiness.
I know this first hand. After graduate school, I moved back to my hometown. I worked a job that I didn’t love. I stayed in a relationship for too long because I thought someone else could bring me happiness.
From the outside, everything in my life looked great. But I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t happy. I became envious of all my friends who moved away to cool places and worked cool jobs. I constantly looked at their pictures on Instagram and Facebook, wishing I had their life. I was seeing exactly what I wanted to see – the perfect life, a life of complete bliss. I convinced myself that I would be happy if I moved away and started over. So I did.
I quit my job, packed up my belongings, and moved to a new state. I pointed to a dot on the map and decided to make this new city my home. I knew no one. It didn’t matter though because I was going to be happy. I was going to be that one friend who posted cool pictures online so everyone could see how great I was doing. All of my stresses and problems and unhappy feelings would be gone. I knew this move would change my life! I was finally going to feel what I thought all my friends felt through their social media accounts: Happiness.
Someone once told me, “Your circumstances follow you wherever you go.”
I didn’t really understand what this meant until I experienced it for myself. And this someone couldn’t have been more right.
I was in a beautiful new city with endless opportunities for a twenty year old. I was newly single and convinced I was on my way to unending happiness. But what I found in my great new city was loneliness, sadness, and that constant longing that something more was out there for me. Everything I was feeling before, I was feeling now, only hundreds of miles away from my source of comfort.
Moving to a new city wasn’t my “cure all” for finding happiness. Buying a brand new car wasn’t my cure all. Changing jobs wasn’t my cure all. And neither was having a boyfriend. I soon found out, there is no “cure all” for happiness. I was finally able to grasp what I should have known all along. I wasn’t going to be happy anywhere, until I was happy with myself. Happiness isn’t a destination you can chase. If that were true, we would all be running in circles with no end in sight.
Finding happiness within yourself isn’t easy. It has taken me years to realize I am in charge of my own happiness. For many years, I relied on people, places, and things to bring me happiness. It’s true when they say you are in charge of your own happiness. Sure, certain people and certain things can add to your happiness. But if you are not truly happy to begin with, no amount of love, wealth, or beautiful scenery will bring you the bliss you are searching for.
If you can realize true happiness comes from within, you will finally be able to stop searching for that unreachable destination and one day, you will find your silver lining.
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