How to be happy? On the neurotic search for happiness.
Happiness. Almost unattainable, everyone wants … How much effort people spend in pursuit of an elusive, but because of this even more attractive happiness! They rush along the road of aspirations, ignoring the “road signs” that say:
- “If you want to be happy, be happy!” (Kozma Prutkov);
- “Don’t chase happiness, it is always in you” (Pythagoras);
- “When you appreciate what you have, and not live in search of ideals, then you will truly become happy” (Friedrich Nietzsche);
- “Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you catch it, the more it escapes. But if you shift your attention to other things, it will come and sit quietly on your shoulder” (Viktor Frankl).
- Why do people ignore these obvious truths? Why does it feel like they are blind and deaf? Why don’t they want to “stop worrying about those things that are beyond our will”? (Epictetus)
How to Be Happy: Happy is how?
In recent decades, happiness has turned from a philosophical problem, which used to be immersed in serious contemplation only at a certain stage of personal development, and which was the prerogative of finely felt poets and thinkers, into an everyday commodity. The search for happiness is “in trend” today. It is assumed that happiness is something almost material, something that can be obtained through a set of actions in life, if not through a simple effort of will. That is, happiness is a certain achievement. The highest level of self-actualization, personal (and ideally professional) success, a certain (preferably high) level of wealth, the presence of a loving and beloved partner (or a full-fledged family). According to one version of the origin of the word, happiness is the best share. And in the minds of philistines, the best share is first of all physical and social well-being. Moreover, for many centuries attempts to derive a formula for some kind of absolute happiness – happiness for all – have continued unceasingly. And at the same time it is obvious that everyone has his own idea of happiness. This is well illustrated by a song from the well-known Soviet cartoon “The Flying Ship. The Tsar’s dream is to marry off his daughter profitably; the potential groom’s dream is of wealth, crown and fame. Princess Zabava herself dreams of love, and the chimney sweep dreams of a family full of children. And everyone says, “That’s it – happiness!” So is global and chronic happiness possible?
How to Become Happy: The Electronic “Recipe Book”
The Internet, the most obvious piggy bank of all kinds of advice, is teeming with offers of happiness. Happiness – “in assortment”! And the proposed ways to achieve it are diverse: wealth, positive thinking, forgiveness, healing, downshifting (“living for yourself”), an exemplary family, getting rid of childhood traumas, etc. By the way, it is common for popular prescriptions for happiness to promote the idea of happiness as the absence of problems (with money, with health, with communication). And then there are super new methods, guaranteed super-quick results, discounts! As the saying goes, any whim – for your money! And the money is usually not small! “Air sellers” are far from unselfish. The result is “guaranteed” but usually not achieved. The culprit is the “customer”. But the employees of the department of Linear Happiness Research Institute CHAVO in the famous book by the Strugatsky brothers “Monday Starts on Saturday” were not businessmen, but scientific enthusiasts. It was the absence of material gain – and the fear of not satisfying the client – that allowed the fabulous scientists to hypothesize that one becomes happy only when “one begins to think less about oneself and more about others: “Here they worked for optimism… Here they condensed and disseminated throughout the world cheerful, wicked laughter; developed, tested and implemented patterns of behavior and relationships that strengthened friendships and destroyed discord; distilled and sublimated extracts of grief-relievers that contained not a single molecule of alcohol or other drugs. Now here they were preparing for field tests a portable universal malodorizer and developing new brands of the rarest alloys of intelligence and kindness.”
But in striving for complacency, it is important not to fall into the other extreme. It is important to remember that happiness and euphoria are very different things! It is interesting that somehow imperceptibly the need, even the obligation, to be happy has become almost an axiom of life. But those who are chasing after happiness should stop and ask themselves the question: to whom and why should I be happy? The answer is pretty quick. After thinking carefully, most of my clients answer such a question: “to their parents. And then worldly psychology and various social attitudes, the influence of the media – “everybody talks” come into play. And usually only at the end of the question is the question: “maybe I should be happy for myself? But if I owe it to myself, then “maybe I don’t owe it to myself either? And it turns out that the goal of “being happy,” especially in following societal “happiness scripts,” is generally a goal imposed by someone else, generating a sea of problems?
“Happiness-substitutes” and “grief-relievers”: cardinal errors in the search for happiness
The pursuit of happiness brings suffering to many and many people. People search – and they don’t find it! And the search for happiness becomes neurotic, making people truly sick. Sick, first of all, of the soul. And then some people try to numb the pain with all possible “painkillers”. Some try to forget themselves in travel, in noisy amusements; to live in such a way that they do not allow themselves to stop and think … In no way should we think that all travelers run away from themselves! Travel in itself is wonderful! However, sometimes new cities and countries are just an attempt to numb the heartache. Sometimes quite successful, but…
“How misguided are those people who seek happiness outside themselves-in foreign countries and travel, in wealth and fame, in great possessions and pleasures, in pleasure and excess, and in empty things that have bitterness at their end! To build a tower of happiness outside of our heart is like building a house in a place that is subject to constant earthquakes. Very soon such a building will collapse…” (St. Nektarius of Aegina) This kind of sublimation, the illusion of happiness, gives a temporary effect of anesthesia – for pain, for intrapersonal or external conflicts. But this “anesthesia” is usually very incomplete. Fresh impressions do not help for a long time. And for some people it does not help at all. Such people look for more potent “painkillers. Various destructive behavioral strategies and even destructive life strategies in general become “happiness substitutes. Tobacco, alcohol and other drugs enter the scene. The problem of game addiction (both gambling and computer games) has become urgent. And quite a “refined” (perverted) attempt to achieve a state of happiness is co-dependency and other types of neurotic relationships. That is, the search for happiness leads people to a state of dependence – not only on drugs, but also on other people, on power and success, on various actions (for example, career or shopping), and even on things. In essence, dependence on the very search for happiness. And if you look deeper, addiction to passions.
There is a wonderful scene in Pavel Lungin’s film The Island: Peter Mamonov’s character burns the boots given to the abbot of the monastery by Vladyka and floats an Athos blanket; he destroys the things that constitute the monk’s main value. This arouses anger at first. But – the indignation passes; sobering comes. And the abbot thanks the elder for this lesson. For freeing him from his passionate dependence on things. From vain possession: “I, brother, am … grateful to you. Yes, thank you for freeing me from all the superfluous, unnecessary things. And it’s true, I was attached to these boots and the blanket. And you got me out of them. Thank you! And most importantly, you showed me that faith … in me is not enough. (Film “The Island”
Indeed. Does possessing something make us happy? Does it, perhaps, really make us vain? Or maybe a lot depends on what’s behind the possession? The owner’s passion? Greed? Pride of ownership? Or quiet possession, “without fanaticism,” so to speak. For example, collecting with an educational purpose is an activity that awakens curiosity, develops determination, etc. And despite the high importance for each collector of his carefully compiled collection, there are many cases when people have sacrificed their collections for the health and well-being of their loved ones. Or even originally collected collections for the public good (museums, etc.). However, more than once it has been the other way around. Sometimes the passion for collecting so enslaves the soul that it destroys families, becomes the cause of various outrages, crimes, including murder. And this duality concerns any possession. For the essence is not in things, but in passions, controlling a man. St. John Chrysostom unambiguously says about whether having something makes people happy or not: “It is not peculiar to people who pay attention to their own nobility, but to the people who have become horses and donkeys, to define the happiness of life on the basis of luxury and wealth and real things”.
But no matter how much is said about it, the notion of happiness is time after time substituted by other – more physical – notions. More often than not, in the pursuit of happiness, people strive, first of all, for financial prosperity. But happiness is not equal to money. Scientific studies have shown that the improvement of emotional well-being with the growth of income occurs only up to a certain level. And it happens because of increase of possibilities for a person – shopping, traveling, paid medical care… And after achievement of this level, a person starts to feel miserable again. There is even such a concept as “neurosis of the rich”. Moreover, it is proven that even an unexpected change of life conditions – a huge win in the lottery or, on the contrary, a catastrophe that deprived a person of means and health – only briefly removes a person from his usual state of happiness or unhappiness. And then (after a year or so has passed) the disabled and the poor learn to live in new circumstances, regaining their happiness; and the winners sink back into misery. And sometimes even more than before the moment of financial stability, because to the former condition is added the disappointment that even the generous gifts of fortune have not brought the long-awaited bliss.
“Mental and bodily life, with a favorable course, gives something like happiness; but it is a fleeting ghost of happiness, soon disappearing (St. Theophan, the Recluse of Vyshensky)
Modern scientists assure: the whole point is that happiness and unhappiness are generated by a person’s own internal attitudes. That is, to be happy is … a choice?!
“HAPPINESS FOR ALL, FOR NOTHING, AND LET NO ONE LEAVE OFFENDED!” (Strugatsky “Stalker”
According to the German linguist Erich Bernecker (1874-1937), the etymology of the word “happiness” is related to the meaning “share, joint participation” and is “unmistakable to the late Church Slavonic ‘sacramental. If we reflect in this direction, it becomes important to understand happiness in Orthodoxy as “bliss”-a state of goodness and enjoyment-and the inseparability of happiness from being with God. Once upon a time, man was HAPPY. He lived with God. Possessed all the tranquility of the world. All the fullness of Divine LOVE. Lived in BLESSING. But then man fell away from God by committing original sin. And every person personally repeats this path of falling away from God. And everyone with all his soul seeks to return to Him in order to regain the lost Joy, seeking the way back to God. But man, enslaved by his passions, pushed by them into sin, does not find that way! For only “the pure in heart will see God.” And it is worth adding that instead of taking care of their soul, adjusting their inner compass on the way to God, people look for happiness only for one part of their body. It turns out that taking care of physical well-being, but ignoring the needs of the soul – or feeding it with unhealthy food, we, for some reason, wait for the well-being and happiness of the soul. Metaphorically speaking, when the soul is thirsty, we give the body a sandwich. And we take pride in this care, and not only are we upset, but sometimes we resent God for doing everything, but we are not happy!
There is a paradoxical result: in pursuit of happiness a person finds himself in a state of deepest unhappiness. And “the happiest is the one who doesn’t need happiness.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca). Indeed.
“Do you know what the greatest cause of unhappiness is? It is the constant search for happiness. Happiness is living with God. Everything else is as God wills. Because our life after the fall in this sinful, sin-soaked world is not a place of rest, but a place of feat” (Archimandrite Melchizedek (Artyukhin).
“In this is the highest happiness: in union with God, which makes man a partaker of the divine glory” (St. Basil, Bishop of Kineshma)
The holy fathers gave many explanations as to what makes a person happy. And most importantly, that happiness is an inner state: “He who has ascended into the realm of Truth, who has submitted to the Truth, receives moral and spiritual freedom, receives moral and spiritual happiness. This freedom and happiness do not depend on people and circumstances” (St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov). Contemporary scholars, such as those at Yale University who have studied happiness for many years and have organized a training course for those who want to become happy, also assure us that happiness is a person’s inner attitude. This setting is little dependent on circumstances – only 10%. An important role in the state of happiness is played by what comes from the family – habits, lifestyle. All this can vary considerably. And by 40% of happiness depends on our thoughts, aspirations. Research psychologist Sonja Lubomirski, as a result of her research, has identified the 3 most important factors influencing the state of happiness: physical activity, the opportunity to communicate with loved ones and, most importantly, – GRACE for what you already have.
“Happiness is used to call something external…. But it is not in the outside, but in us, in the state of the spirit pleasant, joyful, well-fed” (St. Theophan the Recluse).
Indeed, every person walking on the path of spiritual development knows the sense of relief, the pacifying joy that arises when even a slight shedding of the suffocating yoke of passions. When you stop lying. When you honestly admit to yourself your resentment, anger, envy, and pride – and, as a consequence, eradicate the very urge to cling to these pernicious states. When you gratefully accept the very possibility of living and breathing. You appreciate everything that God has given you – without grumbling, without discouragement. This joy of being fills the soul without the rest. This state is called in Orthodoxy impassivity. We should not confuse impassivity with insensitivity:
“Impassivity does not consist in not feeling the passions, but in not taking them into oneself” (St. Isaac the Syrian).
In fact, the Christian state of impassivity is close in essence to the state of mental health.
“The liberation of the soul from thoughts, passions, and the tyranny of death promotes the equilibrium of man, both psychologically and socially” (Metropolitan Hierotheus (Vlachos).
Therefore, instead of hunting for elusive happiness, exhausting oneself in this endless race, one should remember that happiness is, first of all, the feeling of living “not according to a lie,” the feeling of a clear conscience, the attainment of the “spirit of peace. True happiness is freedom from passions. Life “in God, with God, before God, under God” (St. John of Kronstadt).
Please note that the information presented on this site is for information and educational purposes only and is not intended for self-diagnosis and self-treatment. The choice and the prescription of drugs, methods of treatment, as well as control of their use can only be made by the attending physician. Be sure to consult with a specialist.
How to become happy?
Hello! Are you happy? Like, 100 out of 100? Answer before you read any further. The author of “A Happy Year.” Leos Blythe writes about how all our lives we learn to be unhappy instead of just enjoying life, every moment of it. This is because we perceive happiness as a kind of future moment and focus on what we need to achieve before we become happy.
The truth is, there are many ways to feel happy today, right now. Take 5 minutes to read this article, and we promise, by the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to appreciate your level of happiness higher than when you started.
1. Pretend to be happy.
You don’t have to be happy to be happy to begin with. The moment you smile, laugh, relax your shoulders, and smooth out a frown, two curious things will happen:
1. Your brain will respond by releasing endorphins, the love hormone, and oxytocin, the care hormone. At the same moment you will feel more positive and relaxed, seeming more attractive to yourself.
2 Others around you will also begin to respond to you in a more positive way.
2 Look for happiness everywhere.
Even in times of crisis you can find something to bring a smile and gratitude, you just need to look more closely at the world. Keep a diary of happy moments. Every day, write down three things that brought you joy and pleasure: a leaf fall, a friend’s good joke, pizza.
Describe how you felt in that moment and try to add pictures and sketches.
3. cuddle more often.
Scientists have proved that physical contact decreases stress hormone levels. Touching leads to the production of oxytocin, the hormone of happiness. It makes us happier and strengthens our immune system. So…you need more touch!
Give a friend a hug. Get a massage. Hold hands with a loved one. Have sex. Go dancing.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Surrounding yourself with people who energize rather than drain you will make you happier and keep you positive. Think of three people whose company you like very much. Think about how they behave – what do you like about their attitude toward life? Try to adopt their behavior.
5. Encourage curiosity
Children and animals have a lot to teach us. Children are excited about new things. Anticipation of a fun day can occupy all their thoughts. They are always curious about what others will do or say, how other children play. The excitement of new experiences makes children active, cheerful and happy and awakens in them a thirst for learning.
Curiosity stimulates the brain and fuels creativity; new experiences keep the heart young and the spirit alive.
6. Learn to give back
Not everyone knows how good it feels to give and share, and that’s the main source of optimism in the world. Sharing is not only about money and things. The most valuable gift is time devoted to serving those around you, a willingness to listen and pay attention.
7. Check your laughter meter.
How long ago have you swallowed a chuckle or burst out laughing so hard that you can’t even speak? How long have you been laughing with the person you love and
…with the person you love and have fun with? It must have happened often as a child, but over time it becomes more and more difficult to allow ourselves to relax and laugh heartily.
Read a silly joke, watch a funny picture and try to find the absurd in every situation!
8. Get creative
Even if your job doesn’t involve creativity, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Find a place in your life for creativity, and you’ll be happier. Or maybe you dream of learning a new creative hobby – starting a blog or learning to dance.
We recommend creative books: “Calligraphy and Lettering Basics,” “Water Color Animals.
Get creative to be happier!
9. Take a Risk!
Most of the time we prefer to live in a zone of comfort, where everything is familiar and safe; we think that in this way we protect ourselves from trouble and misfortune. But the truth is that the safer our little world becomes, the more we are afraid of any risk. An overly secure life turns into a life of anxiety and limitation that we have set for ourselves.
Happiness comes in many forms, but the happiest moments are when we have made the greatest effort and got the result.
10. Interact with Animals
According to studies, it only takes a few minutes to pet a furry animal and our brain starts to produce serotonin and oxytocin, and cortisol levels, the stress hormone, go down.
11. Formulate an intention.
Formulating an intention is a peaceful and conscious way to sow the seeds of change because this is how we direct our thoughts toward the desired outcome. If you do it consciously, the intention will take root in your mind, which will promote change. You can combine the formulation of your intention with meditation; then your subconscious mind will hear your desires, and it will be easier for you not to resist change.
12 Surround yourself with green and yellow.
If you’re tired of everything, don’t be tempted to “hide” behind black clothes. Researchers from the Free University of Amsterdam studied how colors affect your mood. It turned out that the most “happy” for adults are green and yellow. No wonder, because these colors are the colors of the sun and spring fields, and spring is a time when many people feel happy and are in a positive mood.
With color you can improve your mood. Why not?
13. Share the happiness
Smile at people and they’re sure to smile back! Offer compliments: compliment the person you’re talking to, especially if they’re having a bad day.
If you make someone happy, you’ll be happier too!
14. Go on a trip to nature
Time alone with nature is one of the most powerful antidepressants you can get, and it’s free. It’s a simple way to become happier. Japanese scientists studied the effect of a practice called shinrin-yoku – “forest baths.” Half of the study participants were sent to the forest and the other half to the city. Those who returned from the woods showed “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower heart rate and lower blood pressure.”
A walk in the woods is not only a physical activity and a cure for stress. Plants have been proven to produce phytoncides, immune-boosting chemicals.
15. Send a request to the Universe
We all have strange moments that can change our entire lives. You make a wish, and literally in the next second it comes true as if by magic! At such moments, we begin to believe that we have a guardian angel and that the Universe cares about our destiny. But, as in the famous anecdote, to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.
By visualizing your wish, you get one step closer to its fulfillment.
16. Have a digital detox
A digital detox is a period when you live without gadgets, such as your smartphone and computer. Such a break reduces stress and forces you to communicate more with people in the real world rather than online. When you get home in the evening, put your phone away in a drawer. And only take it out when you’ve spent enough time with loved ones and eaten dinner. Turn off all gadgets two hours before bedtime and don’t keep them in the bedroom.
17. Follow the principles of lagom
Lagom is the Swedish concept of moderate living. Translated, lagom means “not too much, not too little – just as much as you need.” The idea is that happiness and life satisfaction arise when we live in balance and conserve resources.
Lagom is the antithesis of excess. By following the principles of lagom, you never cut yourself any slack, and while this means that you won’t be able to have too much fun, you won’t have to pay the consequences either.
What is lag.
18. Create your own “relaxation kit.”
Warm socks, candles, soothing herbal tea, quality chocolate. And spoil yourself not just on special occasions, but every day to take care of yourself.
19. Read books about happiness and happy people
To become happier you can read books about happiness. Yes, you can do nothing, just read. And your state, creation, feelings will change. And you will want to live happier, after books about happiness it will start to happen by itself.
Your future happiness starts right now.
Yesterday was yesterday, and no matter what you say or do, you can’t change the past. But tomorrow, the day after that, and all the days after that are still the territory of the unknown. And you can influence what your future will be and what emotions will fill it. Everything is in your hands.
20. Make your own “declaration of happiness.
This exercise will help you consciously construct your future – the one you dream of. Complete the following phrases:
I am happy when .
My happiest memory is …
I deserve to be happy because …
The people around whom I am happy are …
I see my happy future as …
And this is what I have to do to make it come true …
In the book A Happy Year. – 52 ways to make life happier, one for each week, and a checklist at the very end!
And if you’re even one percent happier after this article, share it with your friends. ❤️