Many people search their whole lives for an answer to the question, “what is the meaning of life”? Others just live and act on it naturally. Seeking happiness is certainly a part of that quest. But happiness can be elusive, at times dodging us when we seek it most and at other times appearing randomly – when we see a robin outside our window singing about the first signs of spring. I have come to find that happiness is not about some permanent state of existence. I believe it is found in those moments that, when bound together, make up a life – when we see life through the eyes of a child, when we discover a new place in the world, when nature screams its beauty at us. Perhaps all of these experiences, together, equal happiness. And the more moments like this that we recognize and find, the happier we are.
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie
Is happiness then a state of mind? There are people in seemingly similar circumstances who have completely different outlooks on life and perhaps dissimilar “happiness quotients”. Of course, we are all individuals and we can’t know the unique experiences and attitudes internalized over the years. But might it be possible to change our minds by seeking actions and experiences that bring us joy? And those who are happier, have just found more of those moments? As Thich Nhat Hanh says “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
“Inspire Happiness” – Yogi Tea
Maybe happiness isn’t about ourselves at all – I’m convinced that the strongest moments of happiness come from inspiring happiness in others, and that may be the ultimate path to Aristotle’s meaning. Inspiring happiness can be as simple as a kind word – encouragement. Or how about helping someone with a task they can’t do themselves, nurturing someone when they are sick, offering an ear to listen, sending a beautiful bouquet of flowers, remembering their favorites, creating something they enjoy, etc.
When we seek these moments – through gratitude, by creating experiences, by inspiring happiness in others – we change. And through that change comes… happiness.