Unhappiness is probably easier to understand and describe than its positive counterpart. Why is this so? Is it because people, in general, have more exposure to negative feelings and experiences as they grow from care-free childhood into stress-filled adulthood? Could it be because skepticism is the order of the day in this utterly “un-magical” world of realists? Is it possible that the pressures of current day lifestyles show us the myriad ways in which we lack happiness? When you think about it, the explanation doesn’t really matter because even you get to the bottom of the problem you’re not going to be able to eliminate that root cause with a simple click of a mouse. The solution, then, must be in things that aren’t yet manifested. Let’s elaborate on this.
Irrespective of the cause of unhappiness, or its extent, there are a number of ways in which happiness can be brought into our lives. Sometimes it measures just a pinch, but it makes us smile just the same. These fleeting moments of happiness, therefore, should be explored in depth.
What can Cause Happiness?
If we think of happiness as a result of something rather than an absence of unhappiness, then the situation is far easier to understand and deal with. Anything could be cause for happiness: it could be something as simple as looking at a favorite photo to evoke fond memories of past moments; it could be as elaborate as being psycho-analyzed to root out and purge unhappy memories; or, it could be just about learning to love your life and your situation. It doesn’t matter what that approach is, as long as it can make you happy.
But short moments of happiness are merely a part of the equation – not the entire solution, by any means. So what can be done to prolong the experience? After all, you can’t spend the whole day looking at photos of a happy childhood, can you? Neither can you maintain a positive attitude all day when there are things falling apart in your life right in front of your eyes. So what is the real source of unlimited happiness? For this, we must look at our mental makeup and see what it is that makes us tick. Each of us is built differently, with a different set of preferences and quirks. In general, anything that removes pain or hurt or discomfort, and brings pleasure, laughter and joy, can be considered as a way to happiness.
Can Removing Unhappiness Make Us Happy?
While not everything that removes hurt and brings joy will make us happy, it will certainly put us in a better position to seek true happiness. In that sense, removing the cause of unhappiness should ideally be the best way forward. But that’s not always possible. For example, if you are unhappy with your marriage, the easiest way to remove that unhappiness is to get a divorce. Unfortunately, even though the majority of divorced couples make the decision with that very goal in mind, it rarely brings happiness. At best, it reduces heartache; but again, that’s not the complete recipe for happiness, as we’ve seen. Unless that void is replaced with something better, happiness is still elusive.
They key to real happiness is fulfillment. In this context, fulfillment can be likened to an empty cup. The cup is merely a vessel made of some solid substance, but you can’t really call it a cup until it fulfills the purpose for which it was made – in this case, to hold something and make it easier to handle. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that a cup displayed upside down on the shelf for its entire lifetime is no more useful than the stone figurine it sits next to. The point of this example is this: unless your purpose in life is being fulfilled – and the operative word here is ‘being’ – you can never find happiness. You will be like that upside down cup on the shelf – just as useless and just as sad as the people around you who live similar lives.
Find it and Fulfill It
The way forward, therefore, seems to be in first identifying what that purpose is, and then pursuing it. Truly, the pursuit of happiness is the only kind there is. There’s no ‘static’ feeling called happiness – that’s just a myth. This is why people always say “I would be happy if I had/did/were/could…” They think that happiness is a destination that you reach after a big struggle, but that’s not true at all. If it were, then happiness would be the exclusive emotion of people who had everything they ever wanted, did everything they ever wanted, were everything they ever wanted and so on. That is obviously not the case.
Fulfillment is about knowing what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing – and then going out and doing it, and being it. It does not depend on how much money you have, how many friends you have or what a great job you have. It could, but that’s only if your situation is exactly what you wanted in the first place. We must, therefore, begin with appreciating all the good things that we do have, and then finding out what more we can do to enhance them. If you love money, then money will make you happy. The problem is, most people think they love money but when they actually get the money, they find that they really wanted something else.
So finding out what makes you happy is the first step to happiness. This is something that most people don’t do. If this is difficult, then take one step back and see what is making you unhappy. What poison is present in your life right at this moment that is blocking you from finding out your source of happiness? Find that, and you can cut it right out. That’s when you will be able to find out what makes you happy. Unhappiness is like a poison that kills you – not because of the cause of the unhappiness itself, but because it blinds you to the real truth about happiness. This is why people can find happiness in the most miserable of situations. The cause of your unhappiness may not be the fact that you don’t have enough money – the real problem might be that you are angry about not doing anything about it! Once you start doing those things, the real cause of the unhappiness you now experience will have been removed, and, though your money problems may not go away, you would have found a powerful way to deal with it. In most cases, the problem itself goes away when you find a solution to deal with the cause. Even if it doesn’t, you have still found the secret of being happy. And that’s something to be happy about!