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What is happiness anyway?

Happiness can’t just be about ‘feeling good’ otherwise all the drug abusers, alcoholics, workaholics, food addicts, coffee drinkers in the world would be the happiest people on the planet. 

It can’t be about opportunity because In the Western world we now have a higher standard of living than any people before us.  We have better medical treatment, more food, improved housing conditions, more travel, greater access to job opportunities than ever before. And yet, human’s today don’t seem very happy.  In-fact statistically we have more depression, addiction, and debilitating disease than ever before in the history of Mankind!

If we are truly living then, of course, we will experience the full spectrum of emotions.  I believe the struggle comes when we believe that it shouldn’t be that way. When we desire only happiness and joy and pleasure, and by default all of the other range of emotions such as anger, fear, sadness become ‘bad’ and something to be avoided.

Isn’t that interesting in itself – that the feeling of ‘happiness’ is fleeting while the less desired emotions tend to stick around longer?  Could it be that we try to hold on to happiness so tightly that when we feel the other emotions like hurt, pain, discomfort we become unknowingly focus (or attached) on those emotions by default (i.e. I’m not feeling happy, something is terribly wrong).  Helen Keller states “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us”.

Rather than trying to hold on to happiness what if we could learn not to avoid emotions such as pain, fear or discomfort?  What if we could Acknowledge these emotions as completely normal and learn how to handle them better – even develop some tools.  We could make room for them and in doing so, reduce their impact. Could acknowledging and accepting what ‘IS’ help us create a life worth living? A life that entails the full range of emotions in it.

I have no doubt that life will give us uncomfortable moments, times of sadness and fear and anger for this is to be expected, if we live a full life, then we will feel the full range of human emotions, but isn’t that more ‘real’ than becoming rigid in fear, fixed in our thoughts and actions, all in an attempt to resist what will come your way? 

Surely value lies in being ready for those moments and being able to take action based upon what is important to you as a person – to have your personal values guide your actions in times when you are experiencing the less pleasant feelings that make up life – ultimately providing you with the resilience to navigate through.

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