‘Good Vibrations’ – The Beach Boys
‘Happiness’ – Alexis Jordan
‘Happier Than Ever’ – Billie Eilish

When reading these song titles, you immediately think that this is a song about happiness. Here’s the reality – in most songs about happiness, such as these, we hear that being happy is about being in love or having an ‘ideal’ life or seeing the demise of others, or telling someone that you are happy without them and, and, and…The point? It is very rarely about plain, old ‘happy’. Yes, ‘plain, old’ happy.

There are two points to make about being happy. Firstly, everyone deserves to be happy. Secondly, it is a natural tendency for all human beings to be at the happier end of a spectrum. Now, it is very difficult to justify the first statement – this is because we can’t answer the questions as to why there is poverty, illness, and general strife. Well, we can, however, let’s not!

Happiness is innate. According to psychology professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics. 40% of our happiness comes from our intentional activity. 10% of our happiness comes from our circumstances. Hhhmmmm…..so, what we are reading is that if we don’t like our circumstances, we should change them. We should also make time for things that bring us joy. Ergo, the first point above – everyone deserves to be happy.

There are many books that narrate how we should be happy. There are many podcasts too. And documentaries…Here’s the thing – what does it actually take to be happy? Why do we have to read 59 books to go ‘aha, I get it – it starts with me’. Why do we invest so much money in attending talks with alleged gurus who seem to know more about happiness than what we think? Why don’t we just realise that the ‘happiness investment’ is actually an investment in ourselves?

So, is happiness tangible or intangible? Can it be measured? Happiness is a personal stance. It is our perspective that defines it. For some, it is about having time to meditate. For others, it is about connecting with their families. Others may find it in sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. So be it. No judgement. We all have our own source of happiness, and this should be where we derive our positive mindset from.

A person once shared a story with me. They bought a BMW. This car was their pride and joy. It made them ‘happy’. They didn’t let anyone drive it. They parked it safely in a garage. They used it sparingly. They constantly did a full body check on it to ensure that there were no scratches. This car was their happiness. After all, it was their dream to drive this elite piece of German machinery. One night, they met friends for dinner at a restaurant. On this rare occasion, they used their BMW to drive to the venue. They parked their German dream under a streetlight, away from any trees to ensure that no dirt would fall on the car. As is done in South Africa, they paid a car guard to look after their car. At dinner, they faced the window so that they could see the car. Every 15 minutes, they got up to check that the car was still in pristine condition. When they realised how annoyed their spouse and dinner guests were with the same attention to the car, not being given to them, this person realised that they had given their happiness to a piece of machinery. Not only had they given their happiness to the car, they realised that their happiness was defined by the power that this car had over them.

Now, each to their own. We all get on the hedonic treadmill and set goals after goals after goals, thinking it will make us happy. There are two points to this. Firstly, a goal is good. A goal that is achieved brings (or should bring) temporary happiness. Secondly, juxtaposed to short-term goals, we need to pause and consider being permanently happy. Is this possible? It is. Again, it depends on your perspective.

How do we attempt to be in a permanent state of happiness? Well, we feed the part of us that brings us happiness. For some, it is travelling and experiencing different countries. For others, it may be education. This part is easy. Keeping our happiness nourished is the difficult part. We always try and better the last holiday or the last course. We don’t pause, give thanks and savour the moment. Any moment.

Ask yourself this – can you truly write down five of the happiest moments of your life? Most individuals can provide two of these moments. Some don’t have any. Now, try and write down five times that you experienced your happiest moments on your own.

Telling – isn’t it?

Be happy. No one can do it for you.

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