I'll be happy when...

by Fe Robinson

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Do you find yourself saying that you'll be happy when you have achieved something? When you have acquired something? When someone does something you want them to do?

These kinds of statements put conditions on happiness.  They make it impossible for us to feel the way we say we want to now, by insisting that the world shape itself the way we want it before we can feel pleased.

This is just one kind of happiness. It's the bigger, better, faster, more variety, a hedonistic experience where we get the intense pleasure of getting whar we want. 

Unfortunately the pleasure is short-lived, and the requirements to get it tend to be inflationary. We get what we want, and shortly afterwards we are on to wanting the next thing to fulfil us. We get a hollow feeling of what now? We then move on to find the next thing to seek. The hormone dopamine is at play here, goading us to get more and more if whatever we want for us to get that natural hormonal feel good hit.

Happiness comes in other, longer lasting forms. It is an emotion which can arise spontaneously, bubbling up within us, from tiny moments of connection, from noticing small beauties, from stopping, and feeling ourselves. It comes from counting blessings, from being aware of our good fortune, be it valuing people, nature, lifestyle, or anything else that nourishes us.

This contented kind of happiness can be deliberately cultivated.  Counting gratitudes regularly is one way of reorientating your mind to notice what is going well and what you value. This is especially valuable when times are tough and the good stuff is hard to notice.

Happiness is not someplace else. It need not depend on what happens around you. It is an internal state of mind, and it is one you can influence.  So, what was your favourite thing about today? And what do you most look forward to tomorrow? Whatever else there is, there is also this.

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