What are true happiness, joy, satisfaction, and contentment? When was the last time you felt joy and satisfaction that really “rocked your soul”? Our world today is bombarding us with commercials teaching us how to have the good life, books on how to live better, seminars with life coaches who give us the recipe for success, and movies giving us unrealistic views of life. These experiences are not bad as long as we understand what happiness really is.
Where many of us go wrong is by self-imposing how we think we should feel at a certain time or place. After getting there, the feeling is not as strong as anticipated, so unhappiness sets in. The truth is, it is a very happy time we have just taken out of context. Think of what you thought graduating, getting married, having a job promotion, making money, or being a grandparent was going to be like. You watched movies or heard others talk about how they felt. When you reached your milestone, it may not have been as big a deal as you had hoped, so you felt despair. We set ourselves up for unhappiness through buying into media and other puffed-up promotions of what our experience should be.
Today we feel as if being happy is a birthright in our society. We medicate those who are going through a tough time, helping them deal with being sad. Individually, we may seek out food or go shopping to deal with being down. These fixes may work immediately but often for only a short time; then they may have long-lasting negative effects on us. You may eat to satisfy a negative emotion which is temporary; then you become depressed as you realize you are becoming overweight or unfit. The cycle then becomes out of control, and you potentially reach a point of not caring anymore.
What if we really had an understanding or an appreciation of happiness? What if, with that understanding, we self-corrected, not feeling the need for total happiness all the time? You can achieve balance by understanding happiness and removing the extreme peaks and valleys of misunderstood emotion. You will live a happy and fulfilling life with just a little understanding.
Surely, you have recently felt contentment in having accomplished, overcome, or finished something in your life plan. You also may remember being satisfied with reaching a personal goal, knowing how hard you worked toward it. How about the joy felt that permeates your soul when providing a service for someone? Happiness doesn’t mean we run around with big smiles on our face all the time; instead, it is fulfilling our inner desires. Happiness is deep contentment, being satisfied with inner joy.
It is okay to have times of sadness, trouble, and even despair. How much can you really appreciate being happy if you have not had to feel sadness? We learn right from wrong, lightness from darkness. How do you ever appreciate a sunny day if you have not had a rain storm or two?
We need to learn eternally what makes us happy, not exaggerating with others’ perceived experiences. Appreciate the fact that you will have ups and downs, and learn from them. Value, cope, and understand how experiences are helping you. Your stormy days will not have to be dreaded once you can learn to dance in the rain. Maybe, just maybe, you will live a life that feels as though you are happy all the time once you accept the value of a full range of emotion.