As the Holidays approach, there seems to be an increased emphasis on being happy. We all go around saying “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year” to each other without ever questioning why. What does it even mean to be happy? This is an important question because, if we don’t understand what happiness is, then who are we to wish it on others?
We have all met a genuinely happy person before- one who appears to always be smiling on the inside. You can recognize them by the sparkle in their eyes, as if they are amused by a secret joke that only they know the punchline to. What is this secret joke and why is it so amusing? How can we get in on the punchline so that our eyes can sparkle too? Here are three ways to be happy right now.
1. Find peace. If you are looking for happiness, probably the best place to begin is by finding peace. We often confuse happiness with ‘feeling good,’ and so we spend our lives in the pursuit of various sensory pleasures. But, unless you find peace within, you will not develop the capacity to experience the present moment. So, you may be eating a delicious dinner but, in your mind, you are already planning what your next meal will be. Only when your mind is at peace can you be fully present with your sensory experience. When you are at peace, you are satisfied with being in this moment- there is nothing else you need in order to feel complete.
2. Lighten up. Happiness is your natural state of being. Therefore, to be happy, you must shake free from whatever it is that is holding you back. As Alan Watts so succinctly puts it, “Much of the secret of life consists in knowing how to laugh, and also how to breathe.” The fact is, no amount of anxiety will ever make any difference to what is going to happen in your life. If you forget this simple truth, you can waste half your time worrying about things that never come to pass. The trick is to let life happen however it may- and then to react lightly to circumstances, regardless of their perceived heaviness. Life doesn’t always need to be a solemn exercise. To quote Alan Watts again, “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
3. Stop pursuing happiness. Everyone in the world is searching for happiness. We all believe that a time will come when all our needs are met and daily life becomes an unchanging state of bliss. But we are also smart enough to know that this imagined future will never actually arrive. Chasing happiness is like chasing after a carrot on a stick- it may appear that you are advancing towards your goal, but you find that you can never quite reach it. The only way to catch the carrot is to stop pursuing it. Besides, do you really want a life where happiness is the only emotion available to you? At first it would be great but, after a while, you would start craving something different. We are here to experience the full spectrum of emotions, not just the positive ones. As renowned author Glennon Doyle once wrote, “Being human is not about feeling happy, it’s about feeling everything.”
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.