In a 2014 Global Happiness Report, research found that a mere 2 in every 10 would label themselves as ‘very happy’. It came as no surprise that many of the lowest statistics stemmed from developed countries and the highest levels of happiness appeared in the likes of Indonesia and and India. How can the citizens of developing countries who have very little be happier than those of us who have enough you may ask?
Too often we seek happiness externally. We try to fill that empty void by pursuing validation in romantic relationships, spending money on material possessions we do not need, excessively consuming food and alcohol or distracting ourselves from the present moment through the likes of media, technology and so forth. In the Western world we have a habit of rushing through life, jumping from one task to the next without a pause for thought or acknowledgment for what is around us. We strive for bigger and better, never satisfied with what we have. We are always seeking more.
I have lost count of the times that I have heard others say, ‘all I want in the future is to be happy’. It is as if this ‘happiness’ is an external state that is permanently out of reach, offered only when we have achieved X, Y & Z. And better yet, when many of us reach that stage, happiness has still not found us. But why?
That is because happiness is a state of mind. A way of being. It is about our perspective and outlook on life, be that positive or negative. We have a choice to see the beauty or flaws in the everyday, light or darkness in times of struggle or show love or hate towards others. We can either count our blessings or our problems, express gratitude for what we do have or mourn for what we do not. We can accept the present or fight it.
Only we, as individuals, have that choice. Nobody else can fill that void. Happiness isn’t something that is waiting for us in the future, it is accessible in the present. You are responsible for your own happiness, nobody else.