In search of… happiness
Many people search for happiness but find it elusive. We seem to need new sensations, new music, new tastes and new things to look at. We need music with unusual harmonies and beats. We need new stories to make our lives interesting. Is the key to happiness to keep searching for something new?
Happiness is the opposite of being sad or depressed and so if nothing bad happens; would that make us happy? What would make us happy? If you were checking your lottery numbers and they all came up and you knew you had won a fortune, would that make you happy. You would probably feel elated and excited at the prospect! The fact the numbers had come up would be enough to cause elation, even though you hadn’t got the money yet! So happiness isn’t just about something good happening, it’s all about the prospect of something good happening and what we imagine our future to be. Happiness and contentment is about imagining our future and if we perceive it to be good and exciting, we are happy; at least for a while.
Other events, besides getting the numbers up on the lottery can bring us temporary elation or happiness, getting married, having children, expecting new opportunities, a forthcoming holiday or even buying something new for a special occasion. When was the last time you were happy, was it the anticipation of something or the actual event? It is usually the anticipation, flying out on a dream holiday; then the holiday seems quite ordinary compared to what was imagined. When the honeymoon is over, the reality doesn’t always match the anticipated fantasy. Life can be such a let down compared to our optimistic hope and fantasies!
It seems that people who have special skills or knowledge tend to be happier. We all like to be good at something and admired for our talent by others. The acquisition of power, wealth and possessions appears to bring some happiness; but again it seems the anticipation it better than the reality. Few rich people are actually happy! Women love to shop, buy new clothes and shoes that will be consigned to the wardrobe with the rest. The possessions are meaningless, it is the experience of buying them that makes people elated for a while. Perhaps, it is the ambience of the store or the interaction with staff? Big retailers do recognise this and try to make shopping an experience and often go to extraordinary lengths to make it an interactive experience that the customer will anticipate with pleasure.
Taking risks can be scary, but it can also lead to elation, when we get away with something. When you bet a horse in a big race and it wins; the anticipation of it winning can bring elation and we cheer it on; even more so if we are sharing the experience with friends. If it loses it’s a let down, but if it wins we get a high; but it’s so short lived. It’s not the winning that makes us elated, it’s the anticipation of winning. The anticipation of beating the odds against us. We are often motivated to drive faster, work harder, run faster, jump higher just for the buzz of the anticipation that we might just beat the odds against us.
We are mostly just happy not to be unhappy. We want to experience empathy, compassion, sympathy, understanding, kindness and love. These are the soft, thoughtful emotions. Happiness tends to be quite a thoughtless emotion; why think, it could spoil the moment. Happiness is about anticipation, it’s futuristic; but these soft emotions are real and they are now. So maybe happiness is overrated?
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