Those who say that you can’t find happiness, that it’s something that just happens to you in the moment, obviously were only listening to those before them, and who knows who those people were told by. Happiness can, indeed, be found absolutely anywhere.
When I look at my phone, I feel happy because I think about the conversation I had last night with a friend whom I trust, or the sweet text from my significant other that I read this morning when I woke up, or the hour long conversations I have with my mom. (Often one-sided conversations. She likes to talk.)
Let’s look at this more broadly. Happiness is associated with two forms of events: new and old.
When I find myself wandering through an oddly lit alleyway in town, I feel adventurous, curious, and slightly anxious to discover what lies around – all feelings adding up to that of happiness. Then, at a later date, I find myself walking through that same alleyway remembering the picture I took of a toy sand shovel that I saw in the parking garage. Unexplainable, but oddly, made me happy to remember it.
See, we live in a world made up of little things, new and old. These little things come from experience and experience has as much to do with happiness as the flame does in a hot air balloon. So, what makes me (us!) happy is experience. There’s a problem with this though. You can have a bad customer experience, or a regrettable experience, or a poor vacation experience. Right? I would argue that you can’t.
Experience involves two variables: noticing and having interest.
Dictionary.com describes experience as “the process or fact of personally observing, the totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood, and remembered.” I believe that if you were to notice what is happening around you, if you truthfully and personally observe what is occurring, then without a single doubt in my mind, do I think you would feel happy.
The events that people often refer to as negative experiences are actually a subjective reaction to what is going on around them. This reaction is the result of shortened feedback and either always a misunderstanding or the mere inability to understand the situation enough to find the yin in the yang.
Following your attention to the moment, experience also comes from having an interest in something. In one sense, you can view this as the opposite of a negative reaction. Having interest involves reacting to an object or an event in a positive way.
“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.” – Henry Miller
Just as you can always find good in the bad, you can always find an interest where you find the good. It’s our inherent responsibility to follow our hearts, to seek out our passion and then, once found, let it ignite our hot air balloons. The higher we go, the happier we are. All from seeing the good in things and having an interest.
I can’t help but end with the note that Abraham Lincoln is purported to have once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In short, it isn’t about what makes us happy, it’s what doesn’t make us happy. (In case you were wondering, the following does not make me happy: pickled eggs, when I fail to see the bigger picture, and the memory of playing hide-and-seek with my Dad in Gander Mountain, except he didn’t know he was playing.) Happiness is a choice that after you make often enough, it becomes a habit, a habit definitely worth having.
Stay Positive & Do More Of What Makes You Happy
Garth E. Beyer