This is a very exciting time for me with the introduction of my first guest blogger – Rachel Willis. Rachel and I have met as a direct result of the #likeminds social media conference earlier this year and amazingly she wasn’t even there! A very good friend of hers – Caroline Bosher put the two of us in touch. Rachel is a strategist and has worked with quite a few household names including Deloitte and GlaxoSmithKline to name just two. Rachel and I hope to collaborate more in the future so this won’t be the last you read from her. Enjoy.
This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.
Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.
Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.
Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.
This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.
The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.
Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.
This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.
It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.
For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!
This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.
So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.
This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).
But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.
It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!
So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.