Happiness is such a buzzword that each of us associates with something different. But many people have one thing in common: They strive for what they define as “great happiness”. Unfortunately, the essentials are often lost along the way.
Happiness is a human right. It is not for nothing that the “Pursuit of Happiness” is an integral part of the United States’ Declaration of Independence. It is therefore our right to shape our lives in such a way that we are happy.
At least in theory. Because in the USA we see that there seem to be quite a few limits to the promised unlimited happiness: racism, catastrophic health care and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
The great story of the “American Dream” still holds up well – because we humans like to strive for happiness. And that’s not an American phenomenon — for us all over the world, happiness is something worth fighting for.
What exactly that great happiness should be, however, differs from person to person. Sometimes we promise each other luck from our career goal, sometimes from starting a family – or from the long-awaited trip around the world.
What does happiness even mean?
In psychology, happiness describes the feeling of absolute harmony. It is achieved when certain expectations and needs are met. But for many of us, happiness is something bigger.
We often still associate it with the dream of lasting contentment. But it doesn’t exist in that form. This presents us with a problem: If we are constantly chasing our supposedly great happiness, then we overlook what ultimately really matters: the small moments of joy.
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The carefree smiles of our children, the impressive sunrise in the morning, the exciting little flirtation on the S-Bahn on the way to work – the list could go on and on.
We lose sight of all this when we constantly have that one big goal called “happiness” in our heads. Wilhelm Busch already knew that “happiness often comes from paying attention to small things, unhappiness often from neglecting small things.”
Of running and overlooking
So the problem is often not our striving to be happier, but the path we feel we need to take to get there. We rush to the gym because we think a well-trained body makes us jump for joy in front of the mirror and get the beneficial approval of others.
We read self-love, mindfulness, and lifestyle guides because we believe these tips will bring us closer to the popularly touted “best version of ourselves” – and as such, one can only be happy. And we’re trying to climb the career ladder as fast as we can. Because a lot of money means a lot of freedom – and that means more happiness, right?
And when we run like this, together with everyone else who is used to running, we forget to stop and ask ourselves whether our own life is actually good the way it is. Do we absolutely need a six pack, a perfect character and a big bank account?
Or wouldn’t we be much better off if we were happy with ourselves and focused on our family, our friends, and the things we enjoy? Things that we don’t do because we expect something from them, but simply because we feel like it.
What if I find happiness?
Yes, money makes you worry-free – but not happy on its own. Sport keeps us fit and supports our health, but you don’t need a six-pack for that. And as far as our personality is concerned: it benefits much more from healthy self-reflection and self-acceptance than from a number of pseudo-advisers on self-optimization out there.
And if you see your dream of great happiness in life shattered at the end of a rocky path, you are welcome to ask yourself a question: what happens when I actually achieve this great happiness that I am constantly chasing after? When I’m sitting on my sofa with a six-pack, my flawless personality and a lot of status symbols in my portfolio and – yes, and what actually? happy to leave?
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There is a saying: “The way is the goal”. And that’s what happiness is all about. A happy life is a decision, an ever-changing process, not a point you work toward for years.
So it’s more about developing a general joy in life, being open to new people and experiences and realizing that life will not always be a bed of roses. Nobody – really nobody – is always happy. So it’s best not to even try.
The happiness of our parents
Because: We don’t really have our luck in our own hands, at least not completely. We inherited half of our well-being from our parents, 10 percent is determined by external conditions – so we are left with an area of influence of 40 percent.
This is of course a scope that should not be underestimated, but we will not suddenly mutate into lucky bears with unhappy parents because we decide to be happy.
Nevertheless, we can take an important step in the right direction with this decision. For example, if we are mentally ill or have other problems to deal with, then believing in the chance of a happy life can give us one elementary thing: hope. And that is worth its weight in gold, especially in difficult times – such as we are inevitably experiencing right now.
In the end, great luck may just be a fairy tale that we like to tell ourselves. However, we are seldom happy with this ideal. Because there will be no perfect world or the perfect time to finally be happy. Happiness cannot be planned or targeted, but we can start living a happy life by changing our perspective.
A few ideas to get you started: Appreciate what you have. Take good care of yourself and your body, for example with regular exercise and a healthy diet (mainly not exclusively – after all, chocolate also makes you happy). Dare to live an authentic life and stand up for your needs and dreams. And – the most important thing at the end: Spend as much time as possible with people who are good for you.
what makes me happy
Whether the pursuit of happiness is worth it ultimately depends on how we approach it. If we define happiness as a great goal in life that we are chasing after, and in the process lose sight of everything else – then at the end of our journey (when we actually get there) we may find ourselves facing a great pyre.
But if instead we actively choose to have a positive attitude towards life, then we have the chance to experience many happy moments. And all moments that are less than happy to accept as such.
Several studies have shown that just wanting to be happier and establishing positive routines makes us more creative and productive. It also strengthens our immune system and prevents diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. And: On average, we not only live happier, but also five to ten years longer.
Only one question remains: What makes you really happy?
I’m Caroline, a journalist and author for 24 Hours Worlds. I specialize in health-related news and stories, bringing real-world impact to readers across the globe. With my experience in journalism and writing in both print and online formats, I strive to provide reliable information that resonates with audiences from all walks of life.