The majority of humans want one thing in life. Happiness. But in our search for this holy grail, we end up putting ourselves in a lot of painful situations. We strive for social security, to be loved and wanted, and for financial security, so we can attempt to replicate happiness when it’s not always there.
But happiness is most often felt in our valuation of ourselves, and that’s where the problems begin. In our desperation for happiness, we stumble into attachment, cling to the sure-thing, and shut ourselves off from new, but unknown, possibilities. We define ourselves by people, careers, and possessions. We seek gratification from the chosen people around us in order to feel validated as humans. Our own minds and beliefs are never enough to satisfy those seeking happiness. When we recognize something about ourselves we like, we are told not be proud until someone tells us we should be. If I believe myself to be assertive, I only feel proud of that until someone else points it out to me. Why do we do this?
And as time goes on, we develop relationships that feed this need for validation. While we seek opinions we trust and value, we lose trust in ourselves, and value ourselves less. Our feelings of happiness begin to depend on other people and circumstances. When those people can no longer support us in that way, our sense of happiness goes with them. The thought of losing these people scares us, and we do everything in our power to avoid it. But because the brain does this so well, we constantly remember the good things about these relationships and block out the control they held over our emotions, and the power they kept from us. While in the moment we feel that we have achieved happiness, we do not realize that in fact it is being spoon-fed to us, so when the feeder goes away, so does our happiness, momentarily.
It is that moment when we find ourselves attached to something that is no longer there that drives panic up our spines. We make amends, we regret our decisions, we turn back. In some cases, we beg for forgiveness, we apologize, when we have done nothing wrong at all, just in the hope that whatever we have lost will come back to us.
The most difficult part in all of this is the realization that there is often nothing you can do to change the situation. Being stuck in the past of what was will only drive more pain, frustration, and exhaustion. And everyday we spend wondering what could have been or playing the “what if” game, we lose out on the happiness right in front of us in the now. But letting go of our attachments is not easy. We cannot wake up one morning and sweep them away, rather we must do this every morning and every moment. You can start to find validation in yourself. You can lean and depend on yourself. You know you can trust yourself. And you know you will always be there.
Happiness is found in those moments.