I've just listened to an interesting discussion on the nature of Happiness. The interview was with author and Harvard Social Psychologist Daniel Gilbert.
Professor Gilberts work "Stumbling on Happiness" sounds like it might be an interesting read and I've subsequently put it on my Amazon Wish List
There is a hunger in almost all living things for happiness.
What exactly is happiness though?
For me I think that Happiness is a feeling or state of being where one feels elevated with positive and energetic engagement in the moment. Basically, happiness is a mood.
We can only ever feel and be "happy" in the moment. I've always known that but have never heard it actually expressed as a scientific fact such as prof. Gilbert states in the above audio.
I've also always instinctively known that people constantly strive to gain happiness. All our endeavors in work, relationship and entertainment are our seeking for eternal moments of eternal happiness. We rarely remember clearly what made us really happy in the past and we rarely identify what it is exactly that will make us happy in the future.
I somehow knew this but have never really said it or heard it said by someone else until today. It makes complete sense to me that the pursuit of happiness in and of itself is perhaps a futile exercise. We cannot predict happiness. We can dream of being happy but we cannot accurately predict if that experience of happiness would exist if that dream were to come true.
Happiness is transient and elusive. It is never grasped, it just happens. Chasing happiness is like looking for pots of gold at the bottom of rainbows.
I think most people are generally happy but we are - all of us - never content to remain generally happy - what we tend to wish for is to be perfectly happy ALL THE TIME. We are seeking permanency in that state of euphoric engagement.
We think that having more stuff, more money, more fun, more friends, more sex, more rewards, better work, an engaging vocation, engagement in life etc. will bring us happiness. The truth is that happiness will come when we least expect it to and often where we least expect it to.
It's impossible to know when or where happiness will find us. We cannot create happiness deliberately. What we CAN do though is develop the internal sensor inside ourselves that will recognise those things that do make us happy in our moments.
Passion in our endeavors will generally provide more of these moments of happiness. Finding that for which we have a passion and engages us fully so that we are elevated beyond our own egocentric and ideocentric goals, will usually provide us with that state of being that we call being happy. But it won't happen all the time and it won't happen if we force it to be so.
When happiness is grasped it runs through the hand like water, flowing away from us as quickly as when we scooped it from Moments Pool. In order to hold on to happiness, we must accept that it is like water! We instead, need to immerse ourselves in that pool and let time drift into its own space continuum. In other words, we need to simply enjoy these moments where happiness exists and not try too hard to grasp at them and hold onto them forever.
Happiness! It's found in the present moment.
Can we create these moments? Yes and No! Once we have developed our internal happiness sensors within, we may be able to identify that which makes us happy more easily and thereby re-create similar moments which might bring it back to us. For example, if we notice that swimming brings us moments of happiness where we forget who and what we are and just enjoy being, we will go swimming more often to re-create that feeling. But, that feeling will not always be there all the time. We cannot expect it to be like that. We must develop a certain kind of skepticism in regard to finding future happiness.
So don't go chasing happiness, it will elude you. Instead, notice the moments where happiness finds you. The more of these moments you recognise and appreciate, the happier you'll be.