So what is this happiness stuff that everybody is talking about? Everybody seems to be searching for "true happiness", so called experts make millions with books and seminars promising to help you find it, and billions of people are frustrated because those books don't seem to work for them.
If you are reading this article because you are expecting a definite answer to the question what happiness is and how you can achieve it, then I have to disappoint you. I won't be able to give you this answer. Why? Because in my opinion happiness is very subjective, it's different for everybody. What makes me happy doesn't necessarily make you happy.
Here's a perfect example. My boyfriend is over the moon happy when we go to the cinema and watch a superhero movie. His eyes start glowing, he has this big smile on his face that's usually reserved for five year olds who were told they are allowed to eat all the candy they collected on Halloween in one night, and he seems to be totally content with life itself. Me? Not so much. I'll go watch it with him because I know it makes him happy but I just don't feel the same way. I'm sorry. This superhero stuff just isn't for me.
Here's another thing: Most of us are usually searching for happiness on a bigger scale. While my boyfriend's definition of true happiness is being able to go to the movies, most of us would describe this as a nice evening but not necessarily true happiness.
And I think that's one of the reasons why we tend to get frustrated and believe we will never be truly happy. We are expecting happiness to be a constant state of mind. We expect to be running around with a huge smile on our faces, bliss in our hearts, and farting rainbows all day long in order for us to call it "happiness".
Or even worse, some of us might attach the feeling of happiness to material goods. We think we can only be happy if we can buy the new Ferrari, if we are able to afford a nice house in an even nicer neighborhood, or if we can take our family on vacations to such exotic places like....France.
While I agree that traveling is definitely high on my happiness list, it is not for the material quality of it. I don't need to stay in a 5 start hotel and eat in luxurious restaurants when I go on vacation. For me it's about the experience. Being able to see new places, meet people from different cultures, and create memories with the person I love. THAT's why traveling makes me happy.
But I'm running off the topic here. My point is happiness can't be achieved as a constant state. We have to feel down, sad, or even depressed sometimes in order to be able to appreciate what happiness means.
Happiness should also be something that comes from within, that doesn't need an external source to be activated. What if you lose your job and you can't afford a fancy house, an expensive car, and all the little gadgets you love anymore? Will you never be happy again?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be a smart ass here. It took me a looong time to realize that happiness is an inside job. I was always somebody who thought I needed to reach a certain standard of living and financial freedom in order to be - or rather allow myself to be - happy. (I like to blame my mother for this because she's a very materialistic person and to this day doesn't understand how I can live a life free of almost all material possessions. But that's a topic for another time)
But I finally realized that this isn't the case, that a Maserati isn't what brings me true happiness (in the long run. It's still nice to drive one though). You can read more about my transition from money chaser to minimalist here.
What makes me happy now is living in the moment. Looking around and being grateful for everything I have. I live in a beautiful city by the ocean, I am able to wake up every morning without an alarm clock, and I found a man who loves me unconditionally with all my flaws and who supports every crazy idea I have. I have a family who loves me, I have amazing friends, and I get to see the sunrise every morning.
None of these things are materialistic. For me learning to appreciate the things in life we usually take for granted, brought me a lot closer to what I consider true happiness. Accepting things the way they are without trying to change anything that is beyond my control, made me a happier person.
Again, I am not saying there is anything wrong with wanting fancy, shiny objects. And maybe you are somebody who really gets a lot of joy out of possessing houses, cars, and expensive jewelry but please don't let this be the only source of happiness for you! Look inside you and find what makes you truly happy, look around and be grateful for the little things that light up your day, and embrace every moment that you are allowed to spend on this beautiful planet. For me, that's what happiness is all about!