Happiness is something we all long for. We strive for that promotion, that new car and to find that special someone — because we think it will bring us to the magical land of happiness. However, more often than not, this isn’t the case.
If you have ever watched or read a documentary about happiness and fulfillment, or even just glanced at one for a few minutes while flipping through the channels during a commercial…you know that “money can’t buy happiness,” and very rarely does happiness come from any kind of material possession at all.
Happiness is defined as “the state of being happy,” and considered by the English language to be a noun. I believe this to be the very root of the problem we all face–and I’ll explain why.
If happiness is a noun, that means it is an object. Something that can be possessed; something that can be gained. The problem with this is, since there is no magical happiness store that we can walk into and purchase a pound of happiness, we will never be able to GAIN happiness. We will never be able to fulfill the never-ending list of things we create in our mind as requisites. We will never have enough money or be promoted enough times. Our significant others will never be good-looking enough and will never completely stop doing things that upset us. So thinking this way is as poisonous as the drugs we take to assuage our discontentment with the happiness we will never be able to achieve.
So, to fix this problem, we are going to change the definition of happiness. Happiness is no longer going to be a noun, and there is going to be no version of happiness in the dictionary of our minds that can be considered a possession. Instead, happiness is going to be a verb, an action and a choice.
Instead of being defined as “the state of being happy,” we are going to define happiness as “to choose to be happy.” This way there is no infinite list of things that we are never going to obtain or accomplish that we are requiring of ourselves to be able to be happy. There is going to be no insatiable desire for money, clothing, houses, cars and good-looking significant others to fulfill our happiness quotient–because we will already have chosen to be the happiness quotient.
Of course, we will all experience adversity. We will get sick, we’ll miss a rent payment, we’ll move or change jobs and we’ll have disagreements with our friends and family. But it’s how we react to these problems that matter. Realizing that there is always a solution, and that problems like these are almost never as serious as we fool ourselves into thinking they are.
Happiness should be a perspective, not a goal. A lens through which we view the world, our family and our jobs. Through this lens, we are not going to want to make money because we think it will make us happy. We are going to make money because we have chosen to be happy at our jobs; the people around us are going to see it and choose to support us in our career progression. We are not going to look at life and set unrealistic expectations for things that even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet cannot afford. We are going to be happy that we are healthy and live in a world where we even have the choice to make the choice to be happy.
Once we are able to forge these lens of happiness, the money, cars, clothing and fabulous careers will just be an afterthought. A product of our happiness–not a prerequisite.
Featured photo credit: portrait of a happy girl via shutterstock.com