“You have a real life if and only if you do not compete with anyone in any of your pursuits.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Bed of Procrustes)
How many times in the last week, month or year can you honestly say that you were happy. Really, genuinely and truly happy? Do you take the time to think about your happiness and what it means to you?
What does it mean to be happy?
I think that I am in a good place in terms of my happiness at the moment, though I think I am wary that you can’t have too much of a good thing. You might call me a pessimist, but on the contrary. I am a realist. In my (almost!) 30 years of life, a lot has happened which has shaped my perceptions of happiness and continues to do so. I like to think that this is my way of self-preservation. Buffering. I’m sure that a lot of us do this without even thinking. I recently read that this is a habit that a lot of us employ in our daily lives. It’s almost like a minor form of self-sabotage in that we don’t believe that we deserve total happiness in our lives and therefore question it and ourselves and stand in expectation of a fall.
“…although some people are naturally happier than others, their happiness is still vulnerable and incomplete, and (that) achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill. It requires sustained effort in training the mind and developing set of human qualities, such as inner peace, mindfulness and altruistic love.” – Matthieu Ricard (Happiness)
How you can create your own sense of happiness (in some small way…)
I recently read “Happiness” by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk and doctor of Biology on the subject of how happiness can be learnt and practised as a skill. It is an interesting read and one which I would encourage you to try if you are interested in the objectivism (to an extent) of the ‘skill’ of happiness at large. Ricard encourages the reader to focus on self reflection, following their own path and working on internal factors and means of happiness, rather than relying solely on external, material forms of happiness.
Personally, I am happiest when I am doing what I love. Reading. Writing. Crochet. Eating a nice meal. Sharing a hug. Laughing at a silly joke or a comedy. Being with my family. Drinking that perfect cup of tea at the right temperature, with the right amount of sugar, in my favourite mug. All means of achieving inner peace as per Ricard’s writing.
Mindfulness is a way in which you can live in the present. It encourages you to stop and to concentrate on your breathing and to allow your thoughts to naturally pop into and out of your head. (I’ll post more about Mindfulness later) The below sums this up perfectly.
“Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” – http://bemindful.co.uk/
Find the little things that bring a smile to your face. Then surround yourself with them.
F**k it by John C. Parkin is a great philosophy to follow to relax, worry less and be happier overall. Another recommended book on my happiness reading list, which I think deserves a post all of its own!
What does happiness mean to you?