I’m curious about happiness. About joy, inner peace, and how it works. What does it really mean to live a happy life? Society tells us about all the things we should want to have. A job, a spouse, a family, a house, a car. Most of us aspire to have those things in some shape or form, and many of us feel depressed or inadequate if we have none or only a few of those things. Maybe we have a good job, but feel incomplete if we are single. Or maybe we have a good relationship, but feel like failures because we don’t have our careers figured out.
Some people have all of these things, and they are still not happy. They achieve all the things that society approves of, but they still find they are not satisfied. Why is that? And what does that mean for those of us who are still working toward being “successful” adults? I know that you can have everything and still not be happy, but I still feel miserable over all the things I don’t have yet.
This kind of unhappiness stems from constantly being in a state of pursuing something, and feeling unsatisfied because it feels so out of reach. But how can you pursue goals, especially those you need to achieve (like getting a job) without feeling depressed about not having one? I guess the answer is to focus on the process and not the outcome, and to appreciate the things you have that are within your control. I think most spiritual ideas are also verbs. Love is a verb. It requires action. Happiness does, too.
If I think of people who I look up to who seem to live joyous lives, not many people genuinely come to mind. I think of people like Ellen DeGeneres, who dedicates her life to inspiring others. She eats healthy, exercises, meditates, and practices kindness. I think of Oprah, who continues to give back and inspire people through her many platforms. In many ways I think of Miley Cyrus, who also devotes much of her time to helping others, and loving animals, eats healthy, and practices yoga. Marie Forleo, who inspires others through her TV show. Evanna Lynch who inspires others, eats healthy, and loves animals.
Rachel Platten who inspires others through her music. The common theme here seems to be people who spend their time being kind to others, and also being kind to themselves. And those who are able to incorporate that into their life’s work. I think these are also people who don’t worry about the status quo. They don’t care what others think of them, but they do care about where they are on a spiritual level.
So maybe it’s not my purpose to get a job, get married, get a house, and have a car, even if those are things I try to pursue. But maybe it’s my purpose to be kind to others, and to myself. I also think you can’t help others unless you are connecting to your own source of light and inspiration, and I think for many people that comes from connecting to God, a higher power, nature, or the universe. And there are many things, many windows and doors through which we can connect with that.
Whether it’s through music, books, film, conversations, prayer, nature, or stillness. Like Audrey Hepburn says, “we have one hand for helping others and another hand for helping ourselves.” I do think it has to start with us though. I think the idea is that if you get inspired and find your source of light, peace, and joy, you’ll be able to share that with others. Because you’ll shine.
So maybe life is really about pursuing not things, but moments. Moments where we pause and enjoy nature, or just take the time to smile or drink tea. Moments of peace.
While I do think that people who help others is a common theme for a joyous life, it is also possible to do this only to be burnt out. Sometimes people forget to be kind to themselves. I think one reason children tend to be so happy is because they are given so much joy by the caring people around them. We make sure the messages they receive are positive and affirming.
The world is not always so kind, the older you get. You have to find that support for yourself. And I think we need to support each other.
I certainly don’t have the secrets to a joyous or peaceful life. They say you should spend your money or experiences, not things. Maybe life is like that, too. We should be pursuing experiences, not things.