Happiness is one of those elusive things that people believe they want really bad, but can’t describe what it is exactly. For the unhappy, all they know is that happiness is “something else”, it’s not what they’re feeling, it’s not what they’re going through. Some think happiness is joy, excitement, others associate it with lack of problems and stress. The fact is most people don’t know what happiness is and even when they claim they’re happy, they’re probably not!
Excitement and joy are not happiness! Happy moments don’t make a happy life. Relying on positive feelings is dangerous because it can be addictive. If you convince yourself that happiness is a state of bliss and enjoyment, you’ll always be seeking for a thrill, for those exciting moments when you “feel alive”. The rest of your life seems boring. You think that you’re not happy because you don’t experience pleasure all the time.
If you believe happiness is lack of problems and stress, you tend to feel bothered by the slightest threat to your calm and quiet life. If you’re going through difficulties, you crave peace and harmony, you want everything to be over fast, so you can finally be happy.
There’s also people who believe happiness is in reaching their goals. Until then, they don’t consider themselves happy.
Of course, we could come up with other situations where people fool themselves into thinking happiness is conditional to something else, something they don’t have at the moment. Some believe it’s “true love”, others financial success, others fame, and so on. Some people feel happy when things go their way, and become frustrated when the world has its own will.
It turns out happiness is not conditional to anything at all! If I could sum up in a few words what happiness really is, I would say it’s a state of inner peace, self-confidence and assurance, a condition in which we trust and love ourselves, are capable of asserting our needs and choices, and deal proactively with events, positive and negative.
What makes people unhappy is their own lack of ability to deal with life as it is, and the world they’re living in. Let’s not confuse “unhappy moments” with unhappiness! Bad things happen to anyone. Big losses, missed opportunities, accidents. We feel sad and might have a hard time coping with it for a while. But eventually we deal with it and life goes back to normal. Unhappiness is a different story. It’s a state of constant dissatisfaction, frustration, irritation, anxiety, boredom, distress, and even hopelessness.
Most of the time, “unhappiness” is the result of failure in dealing with adversity, obstacles, competition, frustration, conflicts, pressure, and stress. If you look at it this way, happiness becomes much more a matter of personal efficacy, assertiveness, and proactivity than “something we stumble upon” or something that happens to us.
Those are qualities of a resilient person. Your ability to handle whatever comes your way defines how you feel about your life in general, if you’re happy or unhappy. Lasting happiness requires building upon your strengths, persevering, dealing with life in a proactive and assertive manner. Expectations can always be broken, life doesn’t have to happen exactly the way we want. Frustration is part of the game. Things break, go wrong, people disappoint us, the world changes against our will. How we manage all this determines our state of mind. The more resilient we are, the happier we tend to feel.