"Happiness is a state of the mind", said my boss once replying to an employee who expressed his unhappiness about the meager salary hike that he got. That stuck in my mind. Though I have heard similar quotes on happiness before, never had I thought about it seriously until then. I’ve been thinking about it trying to understand.
Starting from the first cry every single human action is towards one goal - happiness. And like Will Smith says in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness: “That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what.”, the general feeling is that happiness is an end product of our certain past and present actions, something that we will achieve at a specific point of time in future and immerse ourselves in it forever.
I felt the same way, till I found people who were happy in same circumstances that I regarded as unhappy. How could that be? Similar situation, but different outcome? Perplexing! That’s when I slowly started to buy the its-in-your-mind idea.
This is what, I think, happens.
Happiness, like every other emotional experience, is the result of various electrochemical reactions in the brain brought on by a stimulus. It gives you a sense of satisfaction. Right from the first experience of dissatisfaction as a child, we subconsciously start labeling the object of each experience as one that gives happiness and the one that does not. We try to repeat those actions picked from the one-that-gives-happiness list; hoping to recreate the feeling. But satisfaction comes with an expiry date. We then look for better options… and the chase begins.
Chasing happiness is like chasing your own shadow created by a light source behind you. It looks like it is away from you, but it actually is with you, right here at this moment.
For you, the experiencer, to experience happiness a stimulus or an object is needed. Unless we intelligently choose stimuli that do not change with time and can be controlled by us, we will never be fully happy. One such stimulus is decision. A decision does not have the property to change by itself. It changes only when you change it on purpose. If we take a decision that no matter what I will be happy, I don’t find a reason for unhappiness.
This is a subtle but a radical change in our outlook. It is difficult and requires a lot of conscious effort. We know exactly how it feels when we are happy, and if this subtle change, though difficult, can fill the rest of your life with that same feeling- why not give it a shot?
So happiness, the experience, starts from you - the object and the experiencer.
Actually in my opinion this change can trigger a chain of other reactions. By enjoying every moment, we will start appreciating things more often. Appreciating leads to thankfulness. And thankfulness forces us to be compassionate. And compassion is what this world is longing for!
So let us decide to be happy right away and create a better world!