There has been times in my life when I have been asked if I was happy, and this has often been followed by me feeling somewhat perplexed. When I have been asked this, part of me has felt as though I should say yes, while another part of me hasn’t wanted to say anything.
The reason for this is that I don’t aspire to be happy, far from it; that’s not to say that I do everything I can to be unhappy, though. For me, the purpose of life is to live a fulfilling life – that’s what matters.
As time has gone by, this is something that I have said when I had been asked this question. And if I am asked if my life is fulfilling, after I have said this, I will usually go into the areas of my life that are fulfilling.
For example, once I have finished writing an article, I usually feel happy. The reason for this is that I will have done something that is deeply meaningful to me - I will have fulfilled a number of needs.
Two Types of Happiness
Soon after this my mood will probably drop, but that doesn’t mean that I will go from one extreme to the other. I will return to the middle ground or the middle of the emotional spectrum.
This type of happiness is then what is called value-based happiness, as opposed to sensation-based happiness. The first type of happiness will be the result of me doing something that matters to me and second type of happiness will be the result of me taking something or having a pleasurable experience.
Before I started writing, I was more inclined to seek out certain experiences or to consume things that would allow me to feel good. The perfect example of this was when I would go out for the night and get drunk.
During this time I would feel great and I wouldn’t want it to end, but this experience wouldn’t last and I would often wake up feeling rough. I soon came to see that the cons outweighed the pros.
I think it might have been through reading books by Osho that I came to see how futile it is to want to be happy. In some his books he talks about how pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin.
Pain follows pleasure in the same way that night follows day. Not only this, the more we want something the harder it is to attain it; therefore, if we set out to be happy, we are likely to experience more of the things we are trying to run away from.
It was also around this time that I came to see that if wanted to be happy, it was usually because I was trying to avoid something. This may have meant that I was in pain, or it could have come down to how I perceived something.
Once I had worked through how I felt or changed my perspective, the need to experience life differently often disappeared. I remember speaking to a therapist called, Vijay Rana, about this, and he said that to him, being happy was all about knowing that he could handle whatever like threw at him. This is all about being resilient.
A Unique Outlook
While this is not necessarily going to mean that he will always have a smile on his face, what it will probably do is give him a sense of belief and allow him to let go and to trust that he will be ok, no matter what.
When he said this, I thought that this was a good way to be. Instead of trying to chase something that can’t be caught, he was more interested in being present; along with doing the work that he found fulfilling.
Coming back to what I said at the beginning, I think the reason why I felt the need to say yes came down to me needing approval, and saying yes was seen as a way for me to fulfil that need. I also feared that if I said no, I would have to talk about why that was.
This would have caused me to experience anxiety and shame, and that was the last thing that I wanted to experience. Over time, I have come to see that being happy is a by-product of having a life that is fulfilling.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.