When we talk about happiness, What are we Talking About?"
We all long for happiness, pursue its footsteps, and every time we get closer, it seems to slip away like an ephemeral illusion. We tend to confuse being content with being "comfortable" with our lives, pleasure with satisfaction. We seek happiness outside ourselves when, in reality, it's about diving within ourselves.
Is Happiness Innate or Learned?
While it's true that a part of our happiness depends on our genes and what we learned from our closest figures in childhood, this accounts for only 25% of the happiness we may experience throughout our lives. The good news is that we can train ourselves to be happy!
This requires specific habits to be exercised and the challenge of learning to navigate the waves of a hedonistic society that pushes us into turbulent waters that end up drowning us. Sticking our heads out and starting to swim is about seeing beyond the promises of immediacy and the seduction of the charm of objects that are offered everywhere. Because, in truth, there are no shortcuts when it comes to feeling satisfied with our lives.
Traditional psychology has focused on alleviating our pain but has not made an effort to teach us how to increase our levels of satisfaction. There are other psychologies that have not only focused on correcting and healing but also on promoting health and strategies to achieve the highest levels of well-being.
We must start with the following premise:
The human being possesses everything within themselves needed for their well-being and proper functioning.
No one can make us sick or heal us more than ourselves. Nothing and no one can make us happy. Happiness is a personal conquest. External factors (people, objects, circumstances) cooperate, lighten, hinder, favor, but do not determine our feeling of happiness. That is just the shell of a pulp that is at the center and is called to unfold. A non-transferable and non-delegable task for those who long for a meaningful life...
The happiness we attain during our journey here depends on how we use our unique potentialities. That is, to unfold our talents. That's why we came, that's what we're here for.
Health, Wealth, and Love? Debunking Myths.
Recent studies assert that people with health difficulties or physical impairments (without pain) do not have lower levels of happiness than completely healthy people.
As for money, research confirms that wealthy people are not happier than less affluent people. This means that when basic needs are met (food, housing, access to education, and medical care), having more or less money does not necessarily correlate with feeling luckier in life.
And love? Relationships? This comes closer to being a good ingredient that adds flavor to life. But those who are without a partner should not be discouraged because the concept of "love" is not limited to exclusive relationships. The relationships that truly make a difference in increasing personal satisfaction are not related to surrounding ourselves with people, having more friends, being more sociable, or living with someone. It is not about the "extent" of the relationship but the "depth and intimacy" of the connections with others. Having an intimate friend and feeling close to them satisfies us more than thousands of acquaintances who barely know each other. The same should be considered regarding partners, family, and those we choose as people in our circle of affections. It's about being "emotionally involved" in relationships with others, not about having a long list of acquaintances to call and socialize with.
We could talk about a path and three phases or a summit with three steps. Only those who complete the journey can access that part of happiness "that depends on each one," that is "within reach" for those who want to leave this life more comfortable and satisfied, full but not confined.
1-The Hedonistic Life
On the lowest step, we find the Hedonistic Life. The one that "best" adapts to the consumer society we live in: buying objects, eating delicious food, empty leisure moments. This way of life convinces us that it is never enough. Each time, we need more to achieve the same sensations (like any other addiction). Here, "happiness" lasts as long as the desired circumstance, the anticipated event, the tasty food, the dream trip, or the presence of someone we care about remains. Once removed, finished, or in the absence of the "object" of satisfaction, we return to the previous state, just like a deflating balloon... Emotional fluctuations are heightened at this stage; we feel at the top or at the bottom, very happy or very discouraged. It's disposable happiness, limited, intense but fleeting. Linked to external circumstances and not to internal disposition.
The life of pleasure is disposable happiness, limited, intense but fleeting. Linked to external circumstances and not to internal disposition.
2- The Committed Life
If we take one step further and ascend to the second step, we make a big difference by accessing what we could call a "committed life." Continuing with the metaphor from the beginning, we could say that in the previous step, we were on the peel of the fruit we are. Here, we begin to penetrate the pulp and taste the "flavor" of life. A committed life is one where a person is fully engaged in what they do, where they "dig deep" instead of just moving the ground... They commit to the people they relate to, the work they do, the goals they assume, and the decisions they make.
The committed attitude is not only about "being responsible"; it is much more than that: it includes not only fulfilling one's duty but emotional contact with what is assumed.
"Becoming passionate" about life is the result of igniting and maintaining the flame. Let's make a comparison to understand the idea: we become passionate about a book or a series when we have continuity in its story, not if we move forward one page or chapter from time to time, right? The same goes for an "involved" attitude toward life. The more time and energy we dedicate to developing an attitude, a gift, a skill, the more committed we become and the more comfortable we feel with the life we lead. Those who identify their strengths, gifts, and abilities and exercise them as much as possible feel satisfied.
The committed attitude arises from the emotional contact we have with what we do. From giving the best we can give in the present moment, under the circumstances we are.
The term used to describe this disposition is an active mental state or "flow state," in which a person is completely absorbed in their activity. It allows us to focus our energy and experience a sense of total involvement. This feeling is experienced while the activity is in progress. Haven't you lost track of time doing something you consider yourself good at? That's it! It's possible to spend hours without feeling tired; on the contrary, an intense energy circulates and feeds itself with the satisfaction obtained. Our inner essence and the Universe align to express what's inside.
In this step, the state of happiness is a consequence of the commitment with which we choose to live. It's about being in the moment we are in. Giving the best one can give (and a little more) in the present and under the circumstances we have.
This disposition in life is not only for those who have had the fortune to dedicate themselves to what they love. It is also possible to find indirect ways to exercise our gifts. For example, in a job that we do not like too much, we can find a way to use a resource that we feel is very much our own. Being creative in the ways we transform what we do into an opportunity to unfold brings us much closer to the state of well.
"Investing time" in what challenges us to grow, rather than spending it on distractions and entertainment, increases happiness levels.
3- A Life with Purpose
The deepest and most sustainable state of happiness is achieved when we "connect" our gifts, abilities, and talents with service to others. When the committed attitude we adopt in life transcends and "touches" the lives of other living beings, we experience life "with purpose." For example, think of a teacher who passionately educates their students, a nurse who diligently cares for others, a firefighter who saves lives, an engineer who helps protect the environment, a business person who contributes to a charitable cause, an administrative professional who empathizes and facilitates someone's life, a musician who sings songs to convey a message, and anyone who decides to commit and collaborate with something beyond the limits of their personality or individual ego.
This is where "transcendence" appears, and with it, greater satisfaction. The feeling that we belong to and contribute to something beyond the boundaries of our finite ego.
The deepest and most sustained state of happiness is achieved when we manage to "connect" our gifts, abilities, and talents with service to others.Los “Atajos hacia la Felicidad”
The "Shortcuts to Happiness"
The culture we live in offers countless stimuli and captivates us with proposals that "guarantee" instant states of "happiness." However, there are no shortcuts to a committed life. Everything that "makes us happier" requires willpower and time. Happiness is a process, not something tangible to obtain, fragment, aspire to, or buy in convenient installments. This is not a whim of fate—it is grounded in our biological nature and follows the laws of species preservation.
In other words, everything that genuinely makes us happy (developing skills, forming connections, having children, advancing in our careers, having a service-oriented attitude, collaborating with greater causes) serves the same purpose: preserving the human species. If happiness were based on individualism and competitiveness, we would not last a week! Becoming happy beings in harmony with nature is what keeps us alive to this day.
Those who seek happiness in this way contribute to this transcendent principle. Being "conscious" of this idea gives life a purpose beyond our own lives.
To increase our perception of happiness, we need to exercise the three variables mentioned:
1-Devote time to activities that bring us PLEASURE (positive emotions, enjoyable activities).
2-Develop our skills and talents consistently and with COMMITMENT .
3-Find ways to feel like a "PART OF" something that includes us and with which we can collaborate.
If we add a committed attitude to a pleasant life that leads us to transcend the limits of our ego, happiness becomes accessible to everyone. If we only stay on the first step, we'll have fleeting moments of pleasure that ultimately feel empty and alienating.