It should be obvious, but the reality is that so many of us are unhappy because we choose to be unhappy. We spend our days dwelling on our failures, how we do not compare to others, coveting what others have and so dig ourselves into prisons of our own makings. The sad part is that too many people believe that happiness is some secret thing out there to which only some have the key. Happiness becomes a tangible thing rather like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Happiness is not like that. One can not find happiness for happiness’s sake. Rather, happiness is found along the journey, in fleeting moments. Happiness is not an “Aha!”. Rather, it is the contentment one realizes somewhere along the way.
To look at the self help section in Barnes and Noble, it is pretty evident that Viktor Frankl was right, and western civilization is living in an existential void. We find so many ways to make ourselves miserable and want to believe the first snake oil salesman who promises to make us happy. We willfully give our hard earned money to questionable self-professed gurus who promise that, by the end of their books or courses, we too will find that inner peace and joy they, themselves have found.
And yet… we’re still unhappy.
We buy gym memberships to transform ourselves into something else, positive that with enough determination, the pounds will melt off and suddenly, we will be happy. We waste millions on diet fads, hair plugs, plastic surgery, gadgets, trinkets, cars (you get the idea) because we want that hole inside of us plugged.
What if I were to tell you that only you can fill that hole? That the hole isn’t even real, but rather a construct of our own minds that has taken on a life of its own so much so that it has become a physical hurt?
Reality television and social media only exacerbate the problem. The former throws in our faces all that we don’t have but covet. The second is a lie in which people want us to believe that their lives are perfect. That may seem harsh, but think about it: does anyone post the general mendacity of their day to day, or is it only their lives from the best angle in the most flattering light?
In all fairness, our unhappiness is something that is largely taught to us. We are given negative messages from the time we are children, compared to others and believing we are either better than or inferior to our peers. Would it not be great to say: “I’m glad for her to have what she has, and I’m going to learn to be happy with what I have”?
It is possible to feel better, but only if you’re willing to put forth the effort and do the work of changing your thinking. It is only by changing how you think about yourself and the world that you can then change how you feel about it all. And, therein, lays happiness and peace.