What is happiness? – It seems to be a mystery
Hello, my name is Noah Elkrief, and in this blog post, I’m going to talk about happiness. More specifically, I’m going to answer the question “What is happiness?” Happiness is such an interesting subject because we all want it, but yet it seems so elusive. We all have moments of happiness, but it never seems to last. We can’t hold onto it, as it always goes. It seems as though happiness is a mystery.
Happiness doesn’t have to come and go
Well, as long as you don’t understand what happiness truly is, happiness will come and go. But, once we understand happiness more clearly, we can have that happiness as a constant in our life. It doesn’t have to come and go. We don’t have to keep searching for happiness. We don’t have to keep trying so hard to get happiness. We can just live with happiness.
What is happiness? There are two types of happiness
There are a couple of different types of happiness. Broadly speaking, there are two major types of happiness. One type of happiness is created by positive thoughts, and the other type of happiness is created by the absence of thoughts. In other words, the second type of happiness is just what remains when we’re not giving attention to thoughts or don’t have thoughts.
Positive thought happiness
First, let’s examine positive thought happiness. If we have a positive thought such as, “I did great”, “this is great”, “It is great that he loves me”, “It is great that I did so well on my exam”, “It is great that I got a promotion”, or “It is great that they think I did well”, those types of thoughts gives us a momentary bit of pleasure. We have a nice, pleasurable feeling for a moment. Right? The most common times when this happens are when someone compliments us, or when we get something that we wanted. It seems very nice to have those moments.
While positive thoughts are enjoyable, the feeling they create doesn’t last. You might have noticed that. Not only does it not last, but it also creates suffering. Let me explain why.
What really creates happiness when you are complimented
Imagine that you are just meeting someone for the first time. You don’t know each other at all. After you each introduce yourselves by saying your name, the other person says to you, “you’re so funny”. How do you think you would feel? You probably would feel confused, maybe asking yourself the question “Why does she think I’m funny if all I’ve said is my name”. Now, imagine that you meet someone for the first time, immediately tell a joke, and then they say, “you’re so funny”. How do you think you would feel this time? You probably would feel a little bit of happiness.
In both hypothetical situations, the exact same words would have been spoken to you. If the positive words themselves created the happiness, then you would have had the same response in both situations. But, clearly that’s not the case. That is because happiness is not created by hearing positive words (i.e. compliments). Happiness is created by believing positive words.
In the first situation, when she says “you’re so funny” without hearing any joke, you wouldn’t feel happiness because you don’t believe the words she is speaking. This is simply because you unconsciously don’t think she is informed enough to make such a claim. But, in the second situation, you would unconsciously conclude that she does have enough information to claim “you’re so funny”, and therefore, you believe her words. That is why it would create happiness.
Why positive thought happiness, from compliments, perpetuates suffering
If somebody compliments you by saying, “you’re so funny”, the only way that it will create happiness is if you then think “Yay! I’m funny”. This doesn’t seem to be a problem, but yet it creates so much suffering. And there is a very simple reason for this: As long as you believe others’ words when they say something positive about you, you will believe others’ words when they say something negative about you.
When you believe others’ negative words about you (i.e. an insult), you suffer. Therefore, as long as you feel good when others say something positive about you, you will feel bad when others say something negative about you.
In addition, if other peoples’ words create happiness and suffering for you, then that means your happiness is dependent on other peoples’ opinions. If your happiness is dependent on other peoples’ opinions, then of course you’re going to worry about other peoples’ opinions, right?
If someone’s positive words make you happy, and negative words makes you unhappy, it’s only logical to give an incredible amount of important to others’ words. Then, of course you are going to worry about their words/opinions because your happiness is on the line. In conclusion, positive thoughts provide pleasurable moments, but they don’t last and end up creating a lot more suffering.
Why positive thought happiness, from getting what you want, perpetuates suffering
Most people believe that getting what you want creates happiness. And, in some way, it does. When you get what you want, you get to have some positive thoughts. But, overall, the pursuit of happiness through getting what you want just ends up creating a lot more suffering than happiness. Here’s why:
When you believe that getting what you want or achieving your goal will make you happy, then automatically (by virtue of comparison), you are going to believe “this moment isn’t as good as when I finally achieve my goal”. When we believe “this moment isn’t good enough”, we go through life with an underlying sense of lack, and sense of something missing.
In addition, if you believe that getting what you want will make you happy, then you will also believe that you won’t be as happy if you don’t get what you want. If you believe your happiness is dependent upon achieving a specific outcome in the future, of course you are going to feel anxiety about it. You are going to experience a lot of anxiety, worry, and fear about the possibility of never getting what you want.
On top of that, when we manage to get the “perfect” circumstance we wanted, we often instantly begin to fear and worry about losing it. If we think our happiness comes from something external, of course we are going to worry about losing it. Even if we get the “perfect” job, we will worry about losing it. If we get the “perfect” romantic partner, we will worry that they will stop loving us, and then require them to constantly reaffirm their love. Or, we may worry about losing our “great” appearance, our strength, or our athleticism as we get older.
When we pursue happiness through trying to get what we want, it winds up just filling our life with a sense of lack, anxiety about never getting what we want, and anxiety about losing what we have.
The happiness that remains in the absence of thoughts
What is this other type of happiness I’m speaking about? The other type of happiness is what remains in the absence of thoughts. Broadly speaking, that happens in two different ways. The most common way this happens is when we’re distracted from our thoughts. In other words, it happens when we are giving our complete attention to whatever we’re doing, without thinking about anything. For example, when we’re engaging in activity that we love like dancing, we can be so immersed in our dancing that we forget about everything. We’re not thinking about whether we’re good at dancing, we’re not thinking about what others think, and we’re not thinking about the future. We’re just enjoying dancing.
It can happen when we’re playing with our kid, we’re just enjoying it; when we’re listening to music and immersed in it; when we’re just in nature and enjoying it. When anything is taking our full attention, in those moments, we’re just happy, we’re in peace, we’re relaxed, and there’s nothing missing. We don’t feel this way because we fixed our life and made everything perfect. We feel happy simply because we’re not thinking about anything. Happiness is what remains when we’re not thinking about anything, when we’re not giving attention to our thoughts. Happiness is what remains. It’s not created. It’s always here when we’re not following our thoughts.
Distractions aren’t enough to give us lasting happiness
So, what is the other way to experience this happiness from the absence of thoughts? Well, the reason why it’s important to have another way to experience this non-dependent happiness is because we can only be distracted from our thoughts so much in our lives, right? That’s what we do all day long basically. We never spend time by ourselves alone with no distraction because we don’t want to be with our thoughts. So we constantly go to distractions like TV, music, friends, conversation, romantic partners, or anything to get us away from our thoughts. But, eventually, we discover that it’s not enough because we can’t be distracted from our thoughts in every second and the distractions that we use will eventually get boring.
The direct way to happiness
The other way to experience this absence of thoughts is to go directly to the source of suffering, and to address the thoughts that take our attention. How do we address these thoughts? We have to discover that they’re not true. When we don’t believe a thought, it doesn’t create emotions and we don’t give it attention.
To show you what I mean by that, imagine you’re just sitting on a bench and then somebody walks up to you and tells you the world’s going to end. If you believe them, how would you feel? You’d probably feel fear, anger, sadness, or something like that. And if they kept talking, you’d probably give them your full attention, right? You’d give their words your full attention. Now imagine the same situation, but this time you don’t believe this stranger, they don’t seem credible. So when they say “the world’s going to end tomorrow”, you think they’re crazy. Would you feel suffering in this situation? No. Would you keep giving their words your full attention? No. You wouldn’t give their words attention if you don’t believe anything that they’re saying.
What that shows you is that when you believe somebody’s words to be true, those words create emotions, and those words take your attention. But when you don’t believe somebody’s words, those words won’t create emotions, and those words don’t take your attention. The same is true with the words in our minds, our thoughts. When we believe the words in our minds, they create emotions such as anger, sadness, shame, guilt, anxiety, and worry. But, if we don’t believe these words in our mind, they don’t create emotions, and they don’t take our attention. Then, we’re left with happiness.
How to stop believing the thoughts that prevent us from being happy
how do you stop believing your thoughts? You question them. You question whether they’re true and you can look in the description as I give you free different resources. A free web app, a free e-book and all of them are meant to help you to identify and stop believing the thoughts that make you unhappy and you’ll be just left with happiness. You don’t needed a situation or an event or somebody to make you happy then you can just live in happiness. That’s it. I hope that helps, I hope it makes sense and I’ll see you around. Bye.