Happiness Lies Within and Not In External Pursuits
Updated: Feb 17
There is a beautiful quote that says happiness can be found when we understand that it needs the efforts of only one person and that is you. Happiness does not come from anyone else but can be created only from within you.
But unfortunately, most of us are raised to believe that happiness is a goal that can be attained if we make the right decisions, learn from our mistakes, and keep moving forward. We are taught that if we find it, we will be always satisfied in our lives, so we live feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, seeking this goal without ever questioning whether it is, in fact, flawed.
Most of us attach happiness to something that we might experience in the future, like getting a promotion in a job, meeting a friend, buying a house, or watching a play, etc. I have often heard my friends say ‘I will be happy when I get the job in that reputable company’, or ‘I will find happiness when I get married to the perfect partner’, or ‘When I retire I will find my happiness’. Students often say that they will be happy when they complete their studies, or when they get admitted to that famous college. The truth is that this concept of happiness is flawed. "Happiness" is not an end goal, it is a state of mind.
It is futile to search for happiness in external places. These people live their lives in anticipation of something while never being able to concentrate fully on the present moment. Once they clear one stage, they start anticipating happiness to be in the next stage, and so on and so forth. Such people blame their circumstances, destiny, luck, situations, family, friends, and past decisions for their misery. We long for educational degrees, good jobs, beautiful houses, and cars but ultimately through all this, what people are looking for in life is actually happiness.
People tend to associate their happiness with things such as health, good grades, appraisals, objects, etc. Objects and possessions give me comfort, more options, and a feeling of security; watching TV gives me entertainment, talking to an old friend gives me nostalgia, and buying a sofa gives me physical comfort. It is I who is associating those emotions with happiness. People who are at their highest comfort levels are also not necessarily happy. Even after the person attains all these, his search for that one feels called happiness does not end. When we attach our happiness to anything external, it is surely temporary. Suppose I associate happiness with my entrepreneurial success and if I suffer a small setback in the business, it will bring sadness and disappointment in my life.
Be the master of your own mind.
When we look for happiness outside of external pursuits, situations, or accomplishments, we are giving external influences more power to govern our life. In the process, we are depleting the profound power of our minds and our inner strength. We make ourselves prone to our environment, influences, relationships, and so on.
When people say that meeting some friends over the weekend will make them feel happy, they are actually giving their happiness in the hands of those friends. There is absolutely no guarantee that after meeting with those friends, they will get the happiness that they have been looking for. Even if they feel meeting their friends made this happy, they should ask themselves if that will last forever. One bad incident the other day and they again become sad. This makes them incapable of finding solace in their present situation and making the optimum use of their present state of life. It does not let them focus their energies in the right place and in the direction.
I ran into an upset friend the other day. When I asked her, I realized there was a very small reason for her unhappiness. She explained that she and her family had planned a vacation for a long time but they had to cancel it at the last moment. I asked her why, and she explained that her husband had to cover for a sick colleague at work. The fact that she was upset that it had been canceled, shows that the state of our mind is dependent on a small scene. This was not a major problem or crisis. So how will we react to bigger or more difficult situations if we are upset or saddened by such minor events? Situations such as losing a job unexpectedly, being in an accident, becoming critically ill, or losing a loved one. To face such challenges, we must be strong. Situations are beyond our control and can occur at any time. But, regardless of the situation, being emotionally independent means having a powerful mind that can face any challenge with stability and without being affected.
Suppose I have a nasty argument with a family member of mine. What the other person told me and how he behaved with me is not in my hands but how much I allow myself to get affected by it is absolutely in my hands. Your peace of mind and your happiness should be in utmost control of your own self. It's a right that will empower you, a right that will make you independent and make you realize your self-worth.
Once you start focusing on the things that are working out in your life rather than focusing on something that is not working out, you will feel that you are living a much happier life. Everyone has their own set of habits and behaviors. Changing everyone is difficult. Being concerned that they will do or say something upsetting, attempting to control them throughout our lives, or expecting them to apologize when they do not act in accordance with our wishes - this is all very complicated. Instead of expending so much energy on this, let us focus on our inner selves. Let us take control of our minds. It is entirely up to me what I think and feel. Even if things are not moving in my favor let only positive thoughts encircle my mind and believe that better things are in store for me. We must build tolerance and acceptance during challenging situations and make way for new and empowering thoughts which do not allow any person or situation to govern our happiness index.
It's only the mind that creates sorrow, disappointment, and sadness so why not make an attempt to condition our mind such that it creates happiness irrespective of possessions, friends, money, goods, or anything that you desire and to which you attach your level of happiness?
Because happiness is a part of the mind that experiences inner peace, or peace of mind, the true source of happiness must be within the mind, rather than in external circumstances. We will be happy regardless of our exterior circumstances if our mind is pure and peaceful, but we will never be happy if it is impure and not peaceful, no matter how hard we attempt to modify our surrounding circumstances.
So, the bottom line is that your aim should be to make happiness permanent/constant/stable and for that, you need to look for happiness within. If my happiness is dependent on myself, only then it can become constant and all in my control.