There is an old joke that goes :
A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his keys and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies, no, and that he lost them in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk replies, “this is where the light is”
How much time and energy have we wasted looking for things where they aren’t because we think it’s easier to look there? This article is about shedding light on where to look for happiness.
I have spent years limiting myself because of some deep-rooted belief that happiness was out there and I needed to find it. The door between me and the life I thought I wanted wasn’t only shut; it was invisible. Pursuing this idea of happiness led me to experience stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and burnout. The one thing I was failing to see, was that you cannot find something where it is not.
Searching for happiness implies that happiness is someplace out there that we can find our way to. It implies that our well-being depends on external factors such as money, careers, accolades, achievements, and other people’s opinions. All of which are transient.
The danger in attributing our well-being to these external factors is that they are fleeting. So when they vary (and they will), so will our well-being. This means having no agency over our feelings.
So what is the solution to happiness?
Searching for something where it’s not is incredibly frustrating. The reality is, happiness cannot be found in the outside world because it’s already within us. We all have the ability to be happy, whatever the circumstances. Because it’s not what happens to us that impacts us, it’s what we make of it.
Our entire experience of the world happens through our thoughts. This means that we are not sad because of something that happened, we are sad because of the thought we are having at that moment. Because our feelings are nothing but the expressions of our thoughts in our nervous system.
Of course, having the resources to be happy doesn’t mean we ought to be all the time. We are not designed this way, we need to experience all emotions to maintain a perfectly balanced ecosystem that can grow and develop. After all, too much sun makes a desert. But recognising our ability to create happiness for ourselves can be incredibly freeing.
Understanding that our happiness is not out there means autonomy.
Cognitive hypnotherapy led me to 2 life-changing conclusions :
- Happiness is not something we can find in the world. We have an infinite resource of resilience, creativity, and strength that are the basis of our well-being.
- Everything we feel we owe to the thoughts we are having in the moment. We live the experience of our thoughts. Not the experience of the outside world.
What would you be able to create for yourself if you were to understand from this moment onward that you have the ability to be happy? That your emotions are yours and the world has zero impact on them. How much time and pain will you save yourself?