(image found somewhere among Google Images)
I wake up every morning to the same question: What is happiness and how can I get it? In fact, I think that each one of us is on a constant pursuit of happiness and when we do not get it, we decide that our lives must be bad, we get miserable and quickly forget there is so much to be grateful for.
But, what if happiness is not something you get, but feel? Or, what if I told you that, during the twenty one years of my search for happiness, I have discovered it comes and goes away? Much like the sea with the tide and ebb, happiness comes and goes away. Now, you may think this is quite a miserable thought to have in mind, but I disagree. Because, you see, just like the sea waves, when happiness ‘washes’ over us, it automatically manages to wash away any previous misery, too! The only sad part is, it does not last forever. In fact, it does not last merely long enough for you to feel fully content. Consequently, we can conclude that in order to be happy, one must always feel grateful. To show gratitude for the smallest of things means to appreciate your happiness here and now. The more you appreciate it, the bigger it becomes and, perhaps, the longer it will stay with you…
So, at this point, you may ask me: Okay, Anna, but what does happiness mean to you? Oh, I wish that I was young enough to feel as happy as a kid and old enough to know the answer to that question. Still, I cannot name one thing that makes me happy. For there are many things that can make me happy. And when I say things, I do not necessarily mean the materialistic objects in the world. Yes, it does feel good to buy new clothes that somehow make me feel prettier, if not more confident, but that is the briefest and most superficial form of happiness one human being can experience (in my opinion, anyway, you millionaires out there can tell me otherwise 😉 ). Anyhow, being the business student that I am, I always love to keep things organised, so I would like to present to you my ‘List of things that make me happy.’ (please note that number one does not mean the thing that brings me the most happiness; it is all very randomly put together to form up this list and make my article a bit more bearable to read)
- Saying ‘Yes’ to something that is quite random and brings a sense of uncomfortableness to you.
This means that sometimes to step out of your comfortable zone can be a truly thrilling experience. Why? Because, in my case (though I am sure I am not alone), I tend to overthink everything so truly too much and too deeply. This means that I also get to imagine all the things that could go wrong or make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Especially when what I have agreed to means being thrown among a whole group of strangers that you have absolutely nothing in common with. But, do you want to know what happened in the end? I got to have loads of fun and strengthen my friendship with a newly made friend. So, how about that! Of course, I hope you are a smart individual and you realise that by ‘saying yes’ more often, I do not mean for you to accept completely dull offerings, such as drugs, alcohol or getting yourself in pure danger.
2. Working very hard and enjoying doing so.
I am a complete workaholic and this can be proved by the academic career I have developed so far. Just to show you what I mean, at the moment, I am supposed to be having summer holidays and doing nothing at all or, perhaps, everything else, but studying. And yet, I have never been working harder than the work I am currently doing (and have been doing since March, 2016) on a university project I am part of. Now is the time to stop you before you have even began to think that I hate it- don’t you dare! There is nothing that I love more than feeling useful and having a purpose in life. For me, being able to do my research and to work so hard on something that I quite frankly love is one of the greatest forms of happiness that I keep on experiencing whenever our project develops further.
3. Seeing your efforts pay off and being recognised.
To connect this point to the previous one, what makes me even happier is seeing the results of my work. Having my efforts pay off is, for me, pure success. And being praised by people I highly look up to is the greatest form of reward. Here is another example of how money really cannot buy happiness.
4. Knowing who you are.
I really cannot underline this heavily enough- if you want to be happy, know who you are! Why? Because if you know what your worth is, you will never feel crushed by the miserable souls out there, who try to tell you that you are not good enough. And because that way, you can finally learn to love yourself and show others just why you are so truly worth to be loved and admired.
5. Knowing what you want.
This goes hand in hand with knowing who you are, really. Because if you know what you want, you will never allow yourself to settle for less and then feel discontent or filled with regret. And I have yet to discover something that eats up one’s happiness more quickly than regret. Wishing you had done something differently is the worst form of self-destruction out there. Because what is gone, is gone. You cannot change it. That is that.
6. Friends and family.
I do believe these two are pretty self-explanatory. However, here I would just like to say that friends and family are the only people that actually help us achieve all of the points mentioned in this list.
It sounds a bit weird, I know. But, think about it this way-I see little acts of kindness on the tube every single day, where two strangers show me, themselves and everybody around us what it means to be a real human being. For, much like what Anne Franke wrote in her diary, I believe that people, deep down, are good. They were born with pure hearts and genuine souls. Sadly, their life experiences can dull their light and wrap them in darkness (here it is worth saying that we should always fight this same darkness and respond to it with pure, overwhelming light), especially when we so easily label others as ‘bad’. So, to get back to my point, seeing strangers helping one another, brings me joy. My helping that old lady, who can barely walk, get off the bus or offering my seat to a pregnant woman, brings me happiness.
You would say this is silly, for smiles are automatically connected to joy, one way or another. Well, then, you obviously need to broaden your horizons a little bit because smiles can be deceiving and they can hide the greatest of pain. Nonetheless, genuine smiles, offered at the right moment (and one moment can never be wrong if you are smiling from your heart), are like waterfalls of happiness. Imagine, that warm and loving smile that slowly curls up on a mother’s lips when she gets to lay her eyes on her firstborn and gets to hold them in her protective arms. The proud, appreciative smile your teacher gives you to praise your work and efforts. The very special smile you are the only person to get (in a sense that it is different from their other smiles) from somebody, who truly loves you. The smile that brightens a kid’s face even more. Or, the little smiles that you share with random strangers, which found something they liked in you, so they express it with a little upward curl of their lips.
9. Looking into people’s eyes.
Don’t stare. Gaze. Don’t make others nervous with your eyes. Make them feel welcomed. Here I would just very briefly mention how happy eye contact makes me. Maybe it is just a very personal thing, tightly connected to the person I am, but I find that maintaining eye contact while talking to somebody makes me happy. Why? Because it simply shows me they are listening to me and, perhaps, enjoying what I am saying. Or whenever I am silent, eyes can say much more than words ever could. And, trust me when I say that, feeling others’ emotions entirely through their eyes, through the way they look at you, is one of the best experiences you can stumble upon. Especially when we talk about positive emotions…
For dogs are the only creatures that love you unconditionally and without expecting a single thing in return. In fact, quite often, they love you even if you don’t love them… I suppose there are humans like that, too, but this is not the time nor place to get into that topic.
I live in a big city with even bigger buildings. And, sometimes, it can get quite overwhelming. The sight of those grey skyscrapers, the surrounding concrete jungle can be too much. Especially when I was brought up by the sea, with my little feet making their first steps on the warm, golden sands before the waves would wash over them, ticklish enough to make me laugh. So, whenever this sense of uneasiness and heaviness overwhelms me, I escape to nature. Here it is a very good time to mention just how grateful I am that London has some of the best parks I have ever seen (perhaps, I should even write a separate article on them one day), which can truly make you forget about the r rush and noise of the big city for a while. Yes, long, relaxing walks among nature make me happy, for they ease my heart and soul.
A good book truly changes your life, for you find yourself becoming part of the story, getting lost in it almost as if it really is happening. And, of course, this can be connected to the previous point- there is hardly anything more relaxing and satisfying than reading a book, seated under a tree as the sun is dancing on your skin and birds’ melodies are ringing in your ears.
Having mentioned all of this, I suddenly come to a very interesting conclusion- the list goes on and on. And even little things like delicious food that I have tried for the first time bring me happiness. Now we come to the actual answer to the question of what is happiness. I think that, after reading everything, different thoughts of what makes you happy have randomly popped in your mind and you were surprised to find out just how many things bring you joy. So, why are you not happy then? The reason for it is never simple. But, I still think it hides in one simple truth- quite often, we forget to be grateful for what we already have, for what we have already experienced, for the relationships we have already built, for the work we have already accomplished; instead, we recklessly throw ourselves in the despair of always wanting more; and more; and more; never to be pleased.
Dear reader, my advice of the day would be: just stop for a moment, look around, and appreciate everything you have. Remind yourself of all the times you were truly happy and smile about it. Be grateful that you have ever been so lucky to experience happiness. Then, maybe, just maybe, happiness will come back to you when you least expect it to 🙂
Until we ‘meet’ again!