How Happiness Happens April 12, 2018 16:37
Let's define happiness as we strive to find it.
Before we attempt to achieve it, it's important to first define the idea of happiness. Opportunities to find unique experiences, growth and awakening, and meaning are always around us. Most of us just don't look as hard as we could. And the reason for this is that we get tuned to function at a particular preset happiness level.
I believe that there are types of happiness, and they tiptoe with us through life. Here they are:
Happiness from Special and Unique Experiences
This is the happiness that comes from unique human experiences. There's the heart-pounding bliss of incredible sex. The fist-pumping elation of winning a sports game. The chest-thumping excitement of closing a major deal. The mind-bending bliss of ecstatic experiences, chemically induced or otherwise. This bliss is powerful—present moment and short-lived. Sometimes there's a crash or letdown afterward as your brain chemistry descends from this high. In small doses, it's fantastic, but it can be distracting, addictive, and potentially destructive. If we were hooked up to instant bliss machines that pumped this chemistry through us 24/7, civilization would cease to progress (and we'd be too blissed-out to care). Happiness from unique experiences is a kind of short-term happiness—but it can't be the only kind.
Happiness from Growth and Awakening
While bliss from experiences is wonderful, there's a second type of happiness. It's more rare but seems to be more enduring. It's the happiness advocated by spiritual practitioners and transcendent practices. I call it happiness from growth and awakening. This type of happiness comes from reaching higher states of consciousness. People seek awakening in many different ways—from mindfulness practices to spiritual paths and practices of all kinds. The millions who pursue some type of spiritual path show how important this level of happiness is to human beings.
Happiness from Meaning
Meaning is what we get from having a healthy vision for the future. It's a critical component of happiness.