“Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” -Guillaume Apollinaire (from Goodreads)
What is happiness? Am I happy? Are we happy? Most of all, why writing a blog about a topic as well-established as happiness? Doesn’t everyone of us have a pretty good idea of what happiness is or what can make them happy?
It is precisely because happiness has been so well taught that I wonder how I can be sure that what I feel when I think I am happy is really happiness.
A journey of self-rediscovery
The purpose of this blog is to take us on a journey of self-rediscovery. A journey where one will decide on the meaning of inner-happiness and the importance of being happy.
Of course, we all heard about the importance of being happy. This topic has been celebrated through time and has been imposed as one goal to achieve. It seems to me that between all the noise around being happy we have lost the true meaning of happiness. Or, have we ever known what happiness means to us!
In today’s society, the state of being happy is well-perceived. As a result, consciously or unconsciously we tend to project a given image of happiness. This reminds me of a colleague I worked with last year. In my mind, I refer to her as “Ms. Smiley face”. She always wears her most joyous face, even in serious and difficult situation.
She’s been taught that showing sadness, anger, or discouragement is a sign of unprofessionalism whereas a happy face means good leadership, strong people skills, a sense of resilience in tough times and all these great skills.
This is what I call an institutionalized feeling, which is in direct conflict with individuality. How can you really feel what you are showing if it has been taught and instilled into your mind?
Another anecdote came to my mind. Often when you arrive at work especially on Monday morning after the weekend, your co-workers tend to ask you: “How are you this morning?”, “How was your weekend?”
Usually, you tend to be honest. If something frustrating, annoying or sad had happened to you, of course you start narrating. You then realize this is neither the audience nor the place to unfold the story of your life. No one has time for this. What really matters is that you are back to work and ready to make the machine run smoothly.
What do you do then? You quickly resume the story and find a happy ending like, “However, I was able to overcome the obstacles as usual”. If you don’t your colleagues or your supervisors will take the opportunity to refer you to a professional who is specialized in dealing with such “issues”.
Happiness, a most celebrated topic
Today, we live in a society where everything has been settled in a way that each of us stay in our assigned place. The feeling of happiness has been so institutionalized that there are academic researches regarding its importance in our society and its relationship with human health.
They actually found out that ”happiness is good for your heart”. – Action for happiness
Following the study results, actions have been taken to make the world a happier place and the organization Action for happiness, which is dedicated to that mission, has been created. There is also a “Ten Keys to Happier Living Guidebook” that detailed the steps you have to take in other to live happy and make your surrounding happy.
Another interesting reference to happiness is ”The Road to Happiness”, a psychological approach, which carefully explains the road you have to follow to be happy.
Similarly, other institutions have considered the question. Every religion has its own recipe for happiness and the Internet is full of well-made “Secret of Happiness” and other “Top Happiness Blogs” that will guarantee a lifetime of happiness. On the same note, the media keep bombarding us with happy clichés.
The same can be said about our family members and friends. They never stop throwing at us their homemade formula for happiness. In order to be happy, “You should go out more often”, “You should go to church”, “You should have more friends”, “You should get married”, “You should try this new diet recipe”, “You should change your hair color”, and so on, insensible to our desires.
Whether it is exercising, eating well and sleeping well or doing your favorite activities or helping someone in need, whether it is believing in a supernatural force that will take care of your overwhelming and non-solutionable-problems, each of the above approach offers different avenues for reflection on the topic. Most of all, they all mean good.
Where do we go from now?
I don’t pretend to have any answers either, and this is exactly my point. Shouldn’t the answer to happiness be personal and based on each individual? Is it possible to create any typology or draw a common practice concerning each desire?
I wonder what would happen if we paused in the pursuit of happiness to paraphrase Apollinaire. Could it be possible to discover pleasure, contentment or self-accomplishment in the saddest and heartbreaking situations? I wonder what we would discover if from time to time we allowed ourselves to just feel the moment.
Is it wrong to sometimes feel sad, upset, angry, discouraged, completely down in the face of the world without having to worry about being depressed, outcast or losing our faith? These feelings are normal human feelings. Why are they depicted as social barriers?
I wonder if it would be wrong to decide of our own desires and focus on our inner-happiness. I think it is time to pause and draw the line. It is time to rediscover our happy-self.
Feel free to tell us what happiness mean to you and how you actually experience it.