What is happiness to you?

If I asked you the question ‘what makes you happy?’ a lot of the responses would involve materialistic things, such as ‘food’, ‘money’ or even ‘a glass or two of wine’. Those things make me happy too. However, don’t these things just offer momentary happiness?

We get the item we so desperately think we need to cure our lapse of sadness and a fleeting wave of joy overcomes us, but how long does that last? This process continues on and on, as one item is replaced with the next as we get bored with it and seek more contentment. This is the a fatal human characteristic of greed and always wanting more. When does it end?

We always want the next best thing and we always try and one up ourselves, whether that’s with physical, material objects or by the sense of overachievement and always wanting better grades or to become a better person. We always seek more, so much so that the concept of ‘better’ has become distorted in today’s world.

How should we go about avoiding this trap of the ever increasing desire of ‘more’? It’s not a question of ‘should’ but rather an encouragement; there’s no right or wrong way.

The next time someone asks you that question that holds a lot more weight to it than at first glance, take a moment before you blurt out an answer that includes a ‘thing’ that will only give you momentary happiness. Instead, (and I’m not saying this is what you should definitely upmost do) take a moment to really think about what makes you happy on a deeper level. ‘Time’ is an often thought about subject here. What makes most people happy is spending time with their favourite people, listening to their favourite songs, doing your favourite hobby. These are the answers that we would probably be better off saying. These ‘things’ (though they are not ‘things’ in the same sense as materialistic objects like wine or food), will give us a lifetime of joy and happiness.

The question of satisfaction and ‘when is enough enough?’ is another tricky one, so I’ll leave you with this. The next time you go to buy something that you believe really will make you happy, ask yourself what that duration of happiness would be. I don’t blame you — when I’m sad I want ice cream too — and that’s ok. Help yourself to the momentary cures of low points in your day. However, what I’m saying here is on a longer term level. Sure, fill yourself with as much ice cream as you need to feel happy for those next couple minutes, but then ask yourself what would really make you happy, what would really make a difference to your mental state and your upsets. Maybe this can be taken on a context of stress with workload. Perhaps you could set yourself little goals each day, giving yourself smaller targets, or just taking a break for a day or two to give your body that much needed rest.

And so what I’m saying is that we need to start thinking about curing our lapses of poor mental health on a wider level that will last longer. Ask yourself what you want (momentary happiness of food and wine perhaps) and then what you need (a real solution to the problem). Then maybe from there you can start to see a real change in your mental state.

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