Happiness, the world needs some formula for brewing it. I think McDonald has had an attempt at spreading some happiness through its happy meal, but, happy meal was rarely happy for me, as a parent and the happiness generated didn’t last for my son’s lifetime either . When he was a toddler, my son after emotionally manipulating me to buy a happy meal so he can get the toy, gained short lived happiness, as McDonald’s would release new toys the next week to keep manufacturing happiness. But what about adults? Many adverts for fast cars, wine, beer, luxury holidays, big mansions etc, are all attempting to peddle happiness, but, no sooner have you achieved something that you think will bring you happiness, then you are chasing the next thing, because the feeling of euphoria is short-lived, the Jones’ next door or at work, or church, have bought something better or a new model that is now all ‘singing and dancing’ has been released.
As I pondered on this a couple of weeks ago, I went out for a meal and natter with five of my friends. I then decided that we needed to have a wisdom sharing moment, so I posed the question, happiness or stability, what would you choose? Of course, they all said hands down, without a doubt they would all choose happiness. However, I had pondered for weeks, reflected on my life, and the awareness and growth I have experienced over the years, my answer was, ” I will choose stability”. Well as you can imagine they were all perplexed, so I proceeded to explain my reasons and insight. I shall do the same now by first exploring:
What is Happiness?
The Webster English Dictionary defines happiness as- An agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the possession of those circumstances or state of being which is attended with enjoyment; the state of being happy; contentment; joyful satisfaction; felicity; blessedness.
In my childhood to 40’s, I experienced extreme and erratic mood swings, which I now know may be referenced as bipolar or main depression. When I was in control of life which is generally not as often as I would like, I would be ecstatic. But introduce other people or situations I couldn’t fully control, and I will lose it, become anxious and refuse to face the reality that being moody, would not prevent things from happening. Just by knowing that I couldn’t guarantee an outcome, would send me on a downward spiral for days. Of course, as the years went by, social media became a thing and made things even worst, people out there are happy, go lucky and living life to the full, why couldn’t I have all the things and opportunities they have, so I can be happy too? But, truth is, the same social media began to reveal that there were people out there just like me seeking to get out of this prison of yo-yo happiness.
The answer wasn’t in things, in circumstances, in feelings so where did it lay? In the midst of my desperation, I asked myself it may be that it is not possible to be happy all the time, but it is possible to have a stable state of being, where by, whether I have the sensational feeling of euphoric joy or have to mourn a loss or endure a heartbreak, my world can still be ok, it can still come back to a place of balance. It dawned on me, that I sought control not of my circumstances or people but of myself and my response to them. With this awareness, I sought to redefine happiness, with stability being the core of that definition.
What is Stability?
The Webster English Dictionary defines stability as – The quality, state, or degree of being stable such as:
- The strength to stand or endure firmness
- The property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition
- Resistance to chemical change or to physical disintegration.
Here it is, when you compare happiness and stability, you find what I sought, some element of control of my life and my response to uncontrollable external forces.
It is worth mentioning that, I also found some revelations from the holy book, the bible, which when you look at the definition of happiness, it is closer to the definition of stability in that it states that “happiness is a fruit of the spirit”. A fruit is something you produce from the inside out, not from the outside in. A tree produces that which is at the core of its nature, therefore if the core of your nature is stable and strong, you will generate fruits of happiness.
Having said all of this, it is my opinion, and each person around the table on the night had to ponder more deeply and look at their life choices to answer the question, Happiness or Stability, which would you choose.
I will like to empower you the reader with some insights and tools , so you too can ponder and make your own journey. So here they are:
Insights and Tools for Manufacturing Happiness:
- Happiness is a choice, regardless of circumstance you can exercise the power of choice to see things in a different way, to express gratitude for who, where, what you are today.
- Empower yourself to happiness by defining what happiness means or would look like, if you are unable to define it, explore it over time with questions like:
- What activities inspire me or bring me joy?
- Who defines me and my self-worth
- Who in my life makes me feel good about myself?
- Where is my happy place that I go to when I need to decompress?
- What memories can I reminisce about that will bring me back to a place of clam and stability?
- How do I fortify myself to live a fulfilled and happy life?
- Using emotional Intelligence, also known as EQ, is one way of managing our emotional state. EQ is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. There are 5 elements to EQ this is are:
- Social skill
- Happiness is temporary and circumstantial, but by working towards stability, you manufacture your own happiness.
- Building your dream and chasing purpose creates inner worth. The knowledge that you are giving it all your very best, creates contentment which creates stability.
- Inner peace and enlightenment, comes from understanding our perceptions of the world and an awareness of who we are and limitations we need to accept. The current practice of mindfulness, which is all the rave at the moment, is a useful way of maintaining awareness.
- Love of self and from others creates stability. Don’t buy the fallacy that we have to be self-sufficient and not need others. True success cannot be achieved alone, consequently our relationships give our lives meaning, having stable relationships lead to happiness.
- Accepting managed imbalance as a happy medium between imbalance and full balance, by this I mean, an awareness that in certain stages of life something has to give so that another thing can grow and develop. Seasons change and are temporal, no need to create permanent states from unpalatable and unhappy circumstances.
- Anchoring on something meaningful beyond ourselves to give our life meaning and purpose, by this I mean, if you are a spiritual person you will understand that faith and hope in a higher power and being, bring about acceptance, stability, a sense of inner peace and happiness.
- Prevent Bitterness from taking root in your soul, by practicing ‘forgive and forget’, then you can build a stable mind, spirit, soul and body.
The list could go on, but I think, you get the picture and have enough food for thought.
I leave you with this quote by Steve Maraboli: ” Happiness is found in the simplest things of things. Happiness is found in gratitude, in a kept promise, in a good conversation, in love, in friendship, in achieved goals, in fond memories, in the simple magnificence of life”