“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. It gives the impression that happiness is outside of us, and that we need to spend our lives pursuing it. The declaration in fact gives us permission to go in pursuit of happiness. Whether we are successful or not in obtaining it is up to us.
People want to be happy more than any other thing; in recent studies more than 70% of people choose to be happy over health, wealth, success, even over having love. This was a surprise to me, as I felt that being healthy, or wealthy, would bring happiness intrinsically. Of course, it does not always do that. In a session recently, a client said she will be happy when she gets her big house by the sea. It was gently pointed out to her that she still could be miserable living in a big house by the sea. She acquiesced.
According to Hsieh, happiness is really about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of relationships), and vision / meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself). So there is a Spiritual aspect, an egoic aspect, and growth aspect. For all things to happen at once, when the ego in us has a tendency for sabotage, makes reaching the state of happiness a delicate one.
So we agree that happiness is not a thing, and it does not necessarily come to us when we have what we think we need, in order to “reach” it. It has been argued that happiness is not an emotion, nor a state of being. For me this is something that is on my mind at the moment as the old, traditional ways of getting happy are shifting away from material objects. I’m seeing it a lot in my practice now.
So I’d like to put this to the floor – and as you, my good readers what your thoughts are. What is happiness? What makes you happy?