While we just celebrated #Azaadikaamritmahotsav, the 75 years of independence, a thought crosses my mind, and perhaps yours too – Are we really free? Are we truly happy? Are these two co-related? If you are free, are you happy? Maybe yes, maybe no!
So, what is happiness? By a definition in psychology, happiness is a state of emotional well-being that a person experiences either in a narrow sense, when good things happen in a specific moment, or more broadly, as a positive evaluation of one’s life and accomplishments overall -that is, subjective well-being. Confusing, it is! But it is very simple to be happy. Just be happy. Do whatever makes you happy. Though, it is easier said than done.
Real happiness comes from within. It comes from making wise choices, including choosing to be happy. When our external situation is going well, it might make it easier for us to choose happiness, but it is not the cause of it. You can be happy even when things around you are nothing like you would like them to be.
So how are these two co-related? Freedom to choose those things which make you happy, which add value to your life, and make life enjoyable. Imagine you have that freedom, there is no one or any such factor to create checks and balances in your life. There is no one around you to interfere in the matters of your life, you are not bothered about earning, household chores, or any such encumbrances, and still, you are unhappy. What could be the reason, all that freedom in your life is making you unhappy? Strange, but true.
Freedom liberates you, but it comes with responsibility also. The whole accountability of running your life, making situations the way you want, controlling conditions, managing movements, and challenging emotions is on you. Have the freedom to choose it all, what is making you unhappy?
You are not happy within!
Now, the question is where does happiness come from?
When you don’t know how to control your emotions, you search for something to make you happy. In this pursuit of happiness, you jump at situations and end up making wrong decisions like:
- Enter into an unhappy marriage
- Adding to the child in an unhappy marriage
- Turning to alcohol etc.
- Spending money you don’t have
As you had the freedom, you made these choices which further added to your unhappiness.
You should hold the key to real happiness, it is in your control and can only be found within. There is likely not a person on this planet that can make you happy. There is probably not enough money in the world that can buy you happiness if you are not right within. You will not be able to consume enough drugs or alcohol to find authentic happiness. All of these things are just cheap fillers for the real deal.
Where does real happiness come from?
Real happiness comes from within. It comes from making wise choices, including choosing to be happy. When our external situation is going well, it might make it easier for us to choose happiness, but it is not the cause of it.
You can be happy even when things around you are nothing like you would like them to be. You can be happy when you are in a job you hate, or when your relationship didn’t end the way, you wanted it to. And you can become happy when life isn’t falling into the perfect plan you had in place.
Happiness is an internal decision you make. It comes from what you choose to think about, talk about, and how you choose to behave. You can create happiness within your life even when it doesn’t seem like it should be possible. You aren’t happy because the things around you are making you happy, you are happy because you ultimately choose your outlook.
I would like to narrate a recent incident that happened to me recently. I received a call from a friend – Arunima, my college friend, from the U.S. Obviously, I was delighted on hearing from her after leaving college. Both of us were. After exchanging notes, she asked me what was I up to.
My book – Life: An Existential Cocktail was just released then, I told her about that and how well it was received. I told her about my family setup also. On her part, she told me that she was working in a company, her husband was well-placed too and had two pretty daughters. All-in-all, everything translates into a happy life, but she did not sound happy. I could sense that.
She mentioned, “Good dear, your husband allowed you to write a book, travel where ever you want, work or don’t work, have one child or more.” I was surprised, I shot back, “Allowed, what do you mean? I am free to call my own shots, this is the life I have chosen, and I need no permission from anyone. Yes, the choice I made for a supportive husband, over a rich one.” And she did not make any such choice. For her money was everything, a means to happiness, now when she has it, why is she unhappy? She doesn’t enjoy the freedom in her castle which I enjoy in my modest abode.
This way, freedom holds the key to happiness but it should not add to the friction in your relationships. It’s like a double-edged sword, you should know how to use it to cut through the unhappiness in life.
Fawn Weaver says, “Keep choosing happiness daily and happiness will keep choosing you back.” It’s that simple. Being happy doesn’t mean everything in your life is going well. It means you have decided you are going to overcome the challenges, look past them, and work toward being happy.