We are all pretty familiar with the saying that happiness comes from within. Or that happiness is an inside job. It doesn’t come from earning more money, buying more things, living in a big house, driving a nice car, reaching a goal weight, or having a well-paid and important job. Even though most people still chase these things, I believe that deep down we all know that true happiness can only come from within. (Chasing material things may just seem like the easier option compared to going through the difficult process of insight and self-development.) And those people who don’t know that yet, realise it pretty soon after achieving whatever target they were aiming for. In fact, sometimes it is only after achieving what we thought was our ideal weight, our dream job, or our target income, that we realise that we are still not happy. Either we want more (we can always earn more money, lose more weight, or upgrade to a more expensive car), or we understand that material things are simply not the answer to happiness.
As Jim Carrey so eloquently put it:
But today I am writing to expand on the saying that happiness comes from within. I believe that happiness comes from within and is found in the now. I guess these two conditions exist simultaneously, as all we ever have to live in is the present moment. However, the now is an important concept to consider when discussing the secret to a happy life.
Most of my “unhappiness” has come from things that have either happened in the past, or things that may or may not happen in the future. And I don’t think that I am alone in this way of thinking. We can feel unhappy because we think about something that we used to have (like our dream body, our youth, or a simpler life), or something that we wish we had done differently in the past (like chosen a different career path, broke up with an ex earlier, or saved more money). Similarly, we can also feel unhappy by worrying about the future. How will I pay my rent? What do I want to do with my life? When will I meet “the one”? Will I achieve my dreams? Will I succeed? Much like dwelling on the past, however, worrying about the future is a fruitless endeavour. And if you think that worrying about the future will make you work harder to achieve your goals, consider this:
So I guess the secret to happiness isn’t such a secret after all. Yes, we are human beings, so we can’t always stop worrying and feeling stressed about things that are not within our immediate control. But I have found that mindfulness and meditation practice keeps bringing me closer and closer to what I now realise is the simple truth about happiness: Happiness comes from within and is found in the now.
PS. A friend inspired me to write this post. You know who you are. Thanks for always being there for me. I love you and miss you loads!