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5 Probably Obvious Thoughts on Happiness

Friday nights only arrive because Monday mornings exist

By Jamie JacksonPublished 9 months ago 5 min read
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5 Probably Obvious Thoughts on Happiness
Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

I’m not a guru. I’m not an enlightened man who refrains from shouting “Oh fuckety-fuck” when I open a packet of crisps and they fly out onto the floor. That sort of thing can ruin my day.

And yet here I am, writing an article to you, about happiness.

But rest assured. This isn’t about how to be happy (well, maybe it is, but it’s simply some thoughts and observations on happiness). Because, let’s face it, happiness is elusive to the best of us.

It might not even be a good thing to be happy all the time. Imagine being blissfully happy 24/7, you couldn’t operate in the real world. You’d be no good to anyone.

Eckhart Tolle, the German spiritual teacher who wrote The Power of Now, tells a story about this. When he first had his spiritual breakthrough and learned to sit in the present moment in bliss, he said his life almost fell apart. He just sat on a bench for hours doing nothing.

And I don’t think that’s why you’re here, or why you’re reading this. I don’t think being in total bliss and doing nothing else is what life is about, as I’m sure you'd agree.

So, we can assume, as a first assumption, we need to be unhappy at times to make happiness real. Friday nights only arrive because Monday mornings exist.

Since the ball is now rolling, here are some other thoughts on happiness, in list form. Because everyone loves a list.

1. The relentless pursuit of happiness will make you unhappy as it tells you happiness is always where you are not

I read this exact quote somewhere and I’ve lost the source. Though it rang true to me.

To obsess about being happier is to constantly tell ourselves we are not happy, or at least not happy enough, whatever thst might mean. We are declaring that we are failing, somehow, to live correctly. Such thoughts will push happiness away.

If you’re worrying about being happy you’re worried — not happy.

The antidote? Find happiness in the pursuit of happiness.

Be the happy hiker, on a mission to the hilltop, but really, you’re on a hike because walking in the hills is fun and beautiful. You hike to hike.

Make the process the goal. Make the pursuit the purpose. If you recognise you’re not as happy as you could be, then fine. You’re still out on your countryside walks and that’s where you want to be.

2. Comfort isn’t happiness

This is an easy trap to fall into, confusing these two. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable but it is the constant seeking of comfort — or more pertinently — the pathological avoidance of any sort of discomfort, that causes problems.

There is no happiness in avoiding discomfort. Discomfort is the only way to grow. And when we grow, life gets easier.

Sitting on the sofa with a duvet watching Netflix and eating chocolate is comfort. It’s pleasure. Do this every day for a month and your life will become harder — confidence will have lowered, weight gained, self-respect reduced and mental and physical health impaired as your comfort zone shrinks and life gets harder.

Conversely, running a mile is discomfort. It’s painful. It isn’t happiness. But do this every day for a month and your life will get better; higher confidence, higher self-respect, better health and your comfort zone will expand.

We might bemoan all the hard shit we have to do, but a lot of it is actually contributing to happiness. It’s a perverse contradiction, to have a happy life you must get deliberately uncomfortable.

3. Happiness isn’t peer approval

Whose standards are you living up to? Working a job with a good salary, having a nice car and living in a fancy house are seen as success. And they are, if that’s what you want.

But if these are not your standards, you will be miserable.

Often we think we’re chasing success but we’re chasing status. Money, cars, and houses are all social indicators saying “I’m high value, love me.”

But social approval wains, and what’s left is the gap between you and what you really want.

“What ifs” terrify me. But they stack up when I chase other people’s approval and other people’s standards and push what I want aside.

Your dreams and goals and desires can get lost in the noise of society.

George Harrison, Russell Brand and Jim Carrey have all made the point fame and riches did not deliver on happiness. As Harrison said:

“I remember thinking I just want more. This isn’t it. Fame is not the goal. Money is not the goal. To be able to know how to get peace of mind, and how to be happy, is something you don’t just stumble across. You’ve got to search for it.” — George Harrison

Searching for it means beating your own path and not letting social approval distract you from the holy pursuit of who you are. That is where happiness lies.

4. Happiness is responsibility

For years I ran from responsibility. I avoided responsibility at work, I put off having children with partners, and I didn’t even want to take responsibility for how my life turned out, but instead blame my childhood.

Not everything in life is your fault, but it sure is your responsibility to deal with it.

What I found when I took responsibility in all these areas of my life is that I grew happier. I felt more competent because I had to be. I felt more able because I could see how I could change my life and I wasn’t helpless. Having a son gave me purpose and showed me a depth of love I hadn’t felt before.

Do not run from responsibility. Embrace it. It’s not the poison you might think. It’s the antidote.

5. Happiness is found in relationships

The pursuit of your dreams and goals are important for contributing to happiness and self-respect, but your life is not lived in isolation. No man, or woman for that matter, is an island. As many people have noted, the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.

Put effort into friendships you value. Friendships can slip away so easily. And when they’re gone, they’re gone. Foster relations with relatives. These people are your blood and history. Work on your ability to bond with others. And lastly, establish boundaries to remove toxic people from your life. This is a balancing act but crucial to learn.

This all might sound like hard work, but happiness does not just fall into one’s lap. It is, largely, related to your relationships. These will dictate your mindset, your social life, your work life and your love life. Do not underestimate the importance of interpersonal wisdom. A great deal of happiness will come from good relationships.

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About the Creator

Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night.

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