The Secret to Happiness

The UN General Assembly in its resolution 66/281 of 12 July 2012 proclaimed March 20 as The International Day of Happiness, stating that happiness is a fundamental human goal. And who does not want to be happy? Sadly, we will soon realise that happiness as a goal is unrealistic.

Happiness is a feeling, an emotion. Our emotions are transient. So, you may ask, “If I am not happy all the time, is there something wrong with me?” No, there is nothing wrong! As human beings we are happy some of the time, sad for some of it, angry… excited… we have a whole gamut of emotions. Sustaining only one emotion is unrealistic. Contrary to popular belief, we cannot control how we feel. Can you imagine conjuring up feelings of happiness when you are angry? Not possible.

How can we achieve this happiness goal then?

Firstly, realise that as human beings we will experience a whole range of emotions and happiness is one of them. We are complex creatures, and our emotions communicate something to us about ourselves. If we are not happy all the time, there is nothing wrong with us.

Secondly, we may not have control over how we think and feel but we have control over how we respond to our thoughts and feelings. We have control over our actions.

The trouble is when we experience painful emotions, our inclination is to try desperately to avoid or shut down or distract from painful thoughts or feelings. This makes us even more caught up in the struggle, become fixated and controlled by them. The key is learning to live alongside these difficult thoughts and feelings.

How can I do that?

Tip 1: Recognise that difficult or painful thoughts and feelings are not bad or negative. It is in the presence of pain, we recognise joy, in the presence of sadness, we recognise happiness. Life is not one dimensional. A life that is rich and meaningful is not devoid of challenges.

Tip 2: Recentre and be kind to yourself. Notice what is hard for you. Reassure yourself that your feelings are normal, but you have a choice of how to respond to how you are feeling.

Tip 3: Refocus and choose to respond according to what is important to you, guided by your values, and not to let your overwhelming thoughts and feelings guide your actions.

These tips will not get rid of what’s challenging for you, but I hope they will help you live a life that matters to you, knowing that your challenging thoughts and feelings cannot harm you. There may be times you may not feel good, and you may continue to feel overwhelmed. You know that you can recentre and refocus yourself and live the life you deeply care about.

I think March 20 should be aptly called, The International Day of Human Emotions, because in experiencing all our emotions, we recognise true happiness.

No Comments

Post A Comment