What causes happiness? There seem to be constant surveys these days attempting to identify the levels of happiness of people. People in different groups, people in different countries, rich people, poor people, successful people, unsuccessful people …….. ad nauseum. But how can you measure levels of happiness? Do you just ask the question “Are you happy” ……. accompanied possibly by the question “What makes you happy”. That gets you into dangerous ground – what makes people happy? Is it the bowl of rice to the hungry child in Bangladesh or the Lamborghini to the rich dude in Monte Carlo? Can money buy happiness??
My personal opinion is emphatically NO!
My theory is that the reflection of happiness – or the opposite, sadness – is simply one of feelings. As humans we get feelings all the time, every moment of our lives, every day, every hour, every minute, every moment. Sometimes those feelings are ‘highs’ – we feel elated, excited, passionate, the adrenalin runs high and our hearts beat faster. We feel sky high, we feel as though we want this moment to last forever, we feel as though pleasure is why we live. These ‘highs’ are obviously all different in levels of intensity and levels of satisfaction, but they certainly contribute to our happiness.
Sometimes we feel ‘lows’. Sadness takes us down, we are diminished,we take pleasure in nothing, and we occasionally convince ourselves that we are less as human beings. The worst reflection of this sadness is depression, the best is just a bit of ‘feeling sorry for ourselves’.
Feelings cause all of this.
What causes feelings? I would say that everything causes feelings but that most of us don’t see this, don’t recognise our feelings unless they are intense highs or intense lows.
This is sad. I would suggest that we would all be a little happier if we looked for things which gave us good feelings – small things as well as big things. Three weeks ago my wife and I became grandparents for the first time. This little chappie has given so much joy in such a short time, and of course in a few weeks he will be walking, talking and learning to read – and in a few months will be splitting the atom! (Maybe a slight exaggeration, but everyone thinks these things of their children or grandchildren don’t they?)
I have had joy from my feelings when I see him. I also have had joy when I look at our lemon tree that I spent two days pruning, mastering the complexities of the chain saw. Two completely different levels of feelings, but both giving happiness. I feel good when I look at my garden producing flowers, and I feel good when our beautiful Beagles want to cuddle up to us in the evenings – particularly when it has been a day of shoe stealing! How can I ever be angry at them, they bring so much joy.
I look analytically at life a lot now – much more than when career was all important, or when the challenges of life got me down. My life is finite, as all our lives are finite, but when a life threatening illness brings that finiteness to the forefront of thoughts, the analysis of life intensifies. I don’t want to be sad. I want to be happy. I haven’t got a Lamborghini, but I have got a bowl of rice. I have got a lemon tree that looks good, I have got two beautiful canine companions. the feelings I get from these things and more make me happy.
To quote Judy Collins “I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow, It’s life’s illusions I recall, I really don’t know life at all.”
What I do know is that to be happy you have to want to be happy, and happiness CAN be found in the simplest of things.