Happiness is not dependent on circumstances. That’s worth saying again, in caps: HAPPINESS IS NOT DEPENDENT ON CIRCUMSTANCES.
That being said, we do a super awesome, totally amazing job of convincing ourselves that it is.
When we don’t have enough money, we say “IF ONLY I had more money, then everything would be ok.” When we don’t have a relationship, we say “IF ONLY I had a relationship, then everything would be ok.” When we don’t have the house/body/car we want, we say “IF ONLY I had the house/body/car, then everything would be ok.” And so on ad infinitum.
But it wouldn’t be ok. Stuff doesn’t lead to happiness. And this isn’t just my opinion. Statistically, we know that major life changes — lottery wins, marriage, new jobs, etc. — cause a temporary boost in our happiness levels. Key word: temporary. They don’t change our long-term positive affect.
There’s even a term for the brief pleasure we derive from major positive events or acquisitions: the hedonic treadmill. Fancy, huh? Basically, it’s the “tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.”
In other words, external circumstances do little to affect our happiness over the course of a lifetime. As I’ve said over and over and over again, HAPPINESS IS AN INSIDE JOB. External circumstances are just the icing (or lack thereof) on the cake.
This is so important to remember, particularly since we’re all given to falling into the trap of always-wanting-something-other-than-what-we-have. We may tell ourselves we’re living in the moment, but for most of us, we’re far more concerned with the future than we are with rightthisminute.
Right now never seems good enough — we’re waiting for some elusive future date when everything will be perfect and we’ll finally be happy.
That’s a recipe for a lifetime wasted. If you’re waiting for something or someone or someplace to bestow happiness upon you like Knighthood, you’ll be waiting forever.
You can find happiness right here, right now, in this perfectly imperfect moment. It’s waiting in your dog’s sloppy kiss; in the crisp autumn breeze; in the infectious giggle of your best friend.
Don’t wait for some imaginary future before you grab ahold of happiness. It’s here for the taking. It lives in the now. <3