Happiness and Mindfulness

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The pursuit of happiness has become something of a phenomenon over the past few years. Many books have been written about it, and quite a few movies have been produced around happiness. It must be on many people’s minds to get such attention. The amount of workshops that are offered just around the area I live, promising to learn a way to become happy, is extraordinary.

What is happiness?

There are many different explanations out there, and it is somewhat confusing. Just put into Google the question “What is happiness?” and you will understand what I mean.

Happiness seems to be different from culture to culture. For some cultures, happiness relates mainly to the inner self of each individual. It is like something that comes from inside themselves. While for others, they are happy when they see beautiful colours or flowers. For them, it is about things that come from the outside in.

Happiness doesn’t seem to depend too much on your circumstances or the situation you’re in. From everything I read and watched about it, it tends to depend on the way you see life and your position in it and is a question of perception.

Taking this as a base, then there can’t be a common definition of happiness. Of course, there are some scientific explanations out there, but they only catch the general aspects of it.

The problem with happiness

The most common consensus I was able to find is that happiness is a state, particularly a state of mind and most seem to agree that happiness is a positive feeling. This is where the problem with happiness comes in. If it is a state, then it cannot exist at all times but is something that fluctuates.

In a way, we seem to fall in and out of happiness. I guess it works as a wave along a timeline, when we’re up we’re happy, and when we’re down we’re sad. Between the two states, we have what I call the ‘okay’ line. It is the area where we neither feel happy nor sad, just okay. This line isn’t fixed, but it moves, always keeping the average (the centre) of the two states.

As we are putting effort into our pursuit of happiness, we sometimes hit a new peek. At that stage, we are highly excited and super happy. For some, this happens when they fall in love or having a baby. For most of us, these things don’t happen every day, and we quickly sink back towards the ‘okay’ line on our way down.

Nobody wants to go down, so we are desperately trying to stay up, always looking for more. For some, it goes that far that the pursuit of happiness becomes the mission, completely missing the point of happiness. In a way, they are never happy but always looking for happiness. It reminds me of drug-addicts. That’s how they must feel, I guess.

Take your own view of happiness

I have been practising meditation for a few years now, and for me, meditation is based on observation. Observing yourself, your emotions, your body and mind without judgement. This is often described as mindfulness, being aware of the NOW.

Meditation has changed my view of happiness since I stopped looking into the future and started to see what is happening around me.

It takes a bit of practice to re-wire yourself out of this drag-race, but it is entirely worth it. The ‘okay’ line has become a variable I can play with. I am in charge, and I can move it up or down, anyway I like. I came to see that happiness is something I can create in me or through outside sources.

I now believe that happiness is not something you need to hunt down. It is always there in you and in everything around you. You need to start looking. You are the source of happiness. You don’t need to pursuit yourself.

My advice to anyone in pursuit of happiness is to start with yourself. Instead of looking to gain something, look at what you already have in you. Discover how amazing you are without comparing or judgment.

You are all the happiness you will ever need or want!

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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