We were lying on the lookout point. We were comfortable and watching the stars modestly light up the sky as darkness fell. It was simple and it was a moment of perfect happiness for me.
But what is happiness? Why was this moment a perfect example of happiness?
Happiness is an emotional state that occurs when one experiences positive emotions. At its simplest cause and effect explanation, happiness seems to be rooted in the good feeling you get when you do (or possess) things you like. When you do things you like, you feel happy. When you take those away, you can lose that feeling. When bad things happen to you, it can affect your happiness level in a negative way. If the magnitude of the event is great enough, you may experience unhappiness. You can add in a whole slew of emotions at this point: anger, fear, sadness etc. (Curious thought: are there more negative emotions related to unhappiness compared to happiness?)
My friend once mentioned to me while I was traveling, “at least you’re doing what makes you happy”. But is that it? Was it so simple as doing things you like to make you happy?
I was not satisfied with that. I wanted to understand this better and what I found out was that the answer was a resounding no; there seemed to be more to it than a simple cause and effect relationship.
Happiness is a simple but complex multi-layered emotion. I found that happiness seemed to split itself into two realms: external and internal. Both can re-create the feeling but seem to have different lasting effects. I mentioned in the preview post that one can have different magnitudes of happiness. In other words, you can have different “levels” of happiness.
Both of these concepts turn out to be important because at the root of everything (outside of basic needs), happiness is the core driver of all of life’s decisions.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself every important decision you want answered and get to the root of it. At the roof of it, the answer is always related to happiness.
Why do people search for love? Because they believe it will make them happy.
Why do some people always feel the need to buy things? Because they believe it will make them happy.
Why do people travel? Because the act of travel seems to brings people happiness.
And so forth and so forth.
You will also find that most of these will be external happiness factors. They are things that happen to us that can change our state of mind.
I have found that the more you root our happiness in external factors; the less happy you truly are. As soon as you lose those things, your happiness drops.
On the other hand, if you have ever met someone who has a high level of internal happiness, they will be genuinely happy in almost all cases. When they are influenced by external happiness factors, it simply amplifies their internal happiness. When you take those away, they are still happy because of their internal state of mind.
Happiness is influenced by a few key components. Can we improve our internal happiness by improving these components? Let me ramble on and see if by examining some of these pieces, we can better understand happiness and ourselves. In the end, I honestly believe we can live simpler, and be more happy doing so.
In part 2, I will examine one of the most commonly associated components: love.