Happiness is something that happens within conscious thought, happiness is an emotion just like sadness. It is something we have the ability to feel even when things in our lives are difficult, even when we are still aware of physical pain, It might not be our primary emotion for a period of time depending on the situation in which we find ourselves, but it is absolutely achievable.
What about euphoria? Happiness and euphoria are absolutely not the same thing, whilst being euphoric does indeed create an emotion of happiness, it is something beyond the happiness of physical existence, something that absorbs every fibre of your mind and being. It is a state guided by the subconscious, completely separate to and uninfluenced by rational thought. Separate to you physical body, it is a state all of its own.
People mistake the two, striving for euphoria which has been miss labelled by wider society as happiness. It is impossible to live a functioning human life in a permanent or even semi-permanent state of euphoria. I have been euphoric, I have achieved a sense of enlightenment and clarity so amazing and so incredible that it is utterly impossible to accurately describe.
Having had these experiences has changed me forever, it has given me a deeper insight into myself than I ever thought was possible. A clearer understanding of my own emotions, my own beliefs and my own purpose has given me an incredible sensation of inner peace.
But as joyous, peaceful and all out enticing as euphoria is, I couldn’t function for any length of time in that state. I couldn’t raise my beautiful children, remain in a marriage, have friendships or even write here on my blog – and I want to have those things, they are part of the human experience, nirvana is not, it is an extra to it. I treasure the human experience for it is within the world in which my physical form resides that I am able to experience both excitement and disappointment, fear and joy, love and envy. I am able to marvel at the enormity of the sun as it rises over the tree line, feel the wind wisp across my skin, smell the electricity of an impending summer rain and watch animals, insects, plants and trees each reacting differently to the sheer beauty of the earth around us. A complex world that never ceases spinning, healing or changing.
Acceptance of ourselves, of others and our environment as well as awareness of how our influence affects others and the willingness to learn and grow through it is what gives us true power.
It is impossible to live a human life in a permanent state of ‘happiness’, happiness is not really a state at all, nor a mindset – it is simply an emotion. If we were always ‘happy’ we would lack the comparison of sadness and therefor would not actually be able to define that emotion as happiness anymore.
We can however strive for contentment, this is achievable as a state of mind. Contentment is a whole mind and body sensation rather than an emotion, these are different things.
Contentment can be reached more easily by understanding and accepting that fluctuations of emotion are natural, not ‘wrong’. To feel so called ‘negative’ emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt, jealousy etc is not ‘bad’ – it is normal, it is even necessary to experience these in order to greater appreciate the ‘positive’ emotions such as excitement, happiness and love.
If we can appreciate that we are human beings with an incredible ability to feel and learn to understand what these feelings feel like, how we react to them, why they have occurred and then accept that we are feeling them so that we can grow from them, then we are in a better place to prevent ourselves from being swept up in a single emotion for long enough to let it damage or define us.
Not allowing our emotions to individually overpower us or affect our wider judgement and interfere with our ability to live our lives in the way we would like to is the key to contentment, but it can be hard – at times it can feel downright impossible!
There are so many underlying factors at play in this game of life, all of which influence our feelings in different ways. Feeling unhappy can simply be a temporary feeling linked to a recent situation or it can be a long-term sense of discontentment and low mood brought about by things such as living situations, physical illness, bad habits, relationships, addictions, depression and while some people heavily dispute the theory of depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain affecting mood. As a person with bipolar disorder I feel that a physical chemical change makes a lot of sense as the extreme fluctuations in my own mood are frequent and often do not seem to be influenced by what is happening around me.
No matter what causes are contributing to feelings of unrest within you, there are still things, sometimes tiny, sometimes huge, but things you can do to move forward into a more steady state of contentment. Some things will be harder than others but simply the act of trying to push yourself through those barriers will increase your confidence and help to heal you.
Awareness is the first step, notice your emotions surrounding a negative experience, question their reason for occurring, ask yourself:
- How do you feel after experiencing this emotion?
- Do you feel cleansed after it?
- Are you able to act in a way now that will positively alter the result of this situation?
- Can you ask anybody else to help you?
- Is there something you would like to change about your reaction if the same thing happens again to trigger this emotion?
- Is there anything you can gain from this experience?
Think about the things surrounding your emotions more than the emotion itself, ask yourself:
- How often do you feel happy/sad/excited etc
- What makes you feel that way?
- Why does it make you feel that way?
- If it was a changeable thing, would you change it?
- Why? / Why not?
Think about what you would like to be remembered for, is it how much money you have in the bank account or how you made a difference to someones life?
You are the main character in your story and frankly, if main characters didn’t have hardships to triumph over then the story would be boring and you would have stopped reading around page 15 only to sit back on the couch mind numbingly watch The Bachelor until you died. Nobody wants that kind of last regret, so be the best person you can be right now remember what your past has taught you, focus on what you have gained from the painful times and push forward, there is much conquering in your future!
Live in your present, smell the roses, watch the sunset, play with your children etc but also look forward to your future, look forward to the feeling of success that comes with triumphing over the hardships, imagine yourself being the person you want to be remembered as.
Change people’s lives for the better – it is extremely rewarding on a soul level. I don’t mean you have to give everyone a new car or take up life coaching, (unless you want to of course) but simply do little things to show someone you care or make someone’s life a little easier and do them often; those little things can really add up for somebody having a hard time and they make you feel good to boot!
Things you can do (starting today) include let someone with less items go ahead of you at the grocery store, pick up a piece of litter you didn’t drop, smile at a stranger, say thank you, compliment someone on their shoes/words of wisdom/pet dog. Do something nice without expecting payment, praise or reward or even telling everybody on Facebook that you did it, simply be nice because it’s a nice thing to be. It feels nice to be nice!
We might not know what is going on in everyone else’s world but our actions do influence the actions of others, so try and be the most positive influence you are able to be at the time. Life will always have its up’s and downs, some harder than others, just remember that it is okay to ask others for help when you are struggling and in return offer your own help whenever you can.
Believe in the power you hold within yourself – for all of the occasions you may have cried yourself to sleep, felt overwhelmed and unfixable you have survived every single time and you can continue to survive and even thrive.
This is your life, live it!