To be happy. Happiness. Etched in many hearts and desires of you, those around you, those before you; and more than likely, those after you.
It’s safe to say, most have a particular idea of happiness being someplace or some thing “out there” in the far distant future—a particular event, the possession of that prized object, the man or woman of your most detailed fantasies, that trophy of recognition…the list goes infinitely on. And with every incredible minute detail perfected.
Let’s explore together those ideas, as we come to understand the nature of happiness. Is it just a melody of different neurotransmitters and hormonal fluxes? Does success really mean happiness? Can happiness exist, without unhappiness? And should I be aiming for happiness?
HAPPINESS & HORMONES
First, if you didn’t already know, we have a flood of different hormones (“chemical messengers”) in the body influencing our experience and perception of the world. As well as powerfully influencing our inner experience: attitudes, fears, motivators, and many more.
Hormones are powerful. Biologically, neurotransmitters like dopamine play a role in addiction. And addiction is a sinister cycle of reward-seeking behavior, which never provides the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
This addicted drive for that undeniably pleasurable “rush” is the over flooding of intrinsic hormonal cocktails. And too much of these feel-good chemicals, as with any “too much of a good thing”, begins to unravel receptors for these hormones…resulting in a broken and dying system. And some receptors will never grow back again.
I believe, hormones are only one piece in the elusive equation of “happiness”. The mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. #themindbodyconnection
DO YOUR BODY GOOD
I firmly believe adopting healthy habits like exercising, eating healthy anti-inflammatory foods, and supplementation of key vitamins/minerals—consistently—is the foundation of experiencing happiness. Period.
Legal Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, I am not YOUR doctor. Please refer to your primary care physician before beginning any new exercise, diet, or dietary supplement regimen.
Your body is a temple. A temple that is temporarily yours for a little while. And since you bring it to every factor of life, I argue that the best way to experience happiness is to have a happy well-functioning body. This should be your foundation to build upon. Your #1.
HAPPY MIND = HAPPY LIFE
Next, consider that we experience the world as electrical signals in the brain. As stated in the previous section, a well functioning body is a factor for experiencing happiness. That includes your brain, your mind.
Your mind is probably the most important factor in this entire equation.
If you’ve ever looked at a brain, those grooves are changing from experiences—a process known as “neuroplasticity”. Neuroplasticity is fascinating, as it suggests that our brains are constantly growing and changing. Adapting.
The power you have in life is deciding what you allow to persist. What are you choosing to constantly expose your mind to? Are you constantly listening to negative news? Do you surround yourself with negative people who are interested only in gossiping? Just as you decide what dietary lifestyle you participate in, you decide what your mind consumes too.
If “you are what you eat”—then you’ll be what your mind consumes.
It might help to know, how you perceive the world is totally up to you. You can train your mind to be more optimistic or pessimistic, which affects your overall happiness. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a powerful tool, if you need help in navigating that spectrum. I’m all for it towards your journey to happiness.
RECEIVE YOUR HAPPINESS
Let’s go back to that assumption that happiness is an event, status, or thing “out there” in the future. And that it’s not something present, in the here and now.
That “thing out there”…when it comes to you, will you be ready to receive it? The above example of hormones and receptors being an essential experience happening inside your body at the cellular level can also be used at the macro vantage point too.
The thing which you desire can only give us happiness if we are ready to receive it.
Self-sabotage is quite common. And if we aren’t making our lives receptive to happiness, then we aren’t participating in our journey to happiness.
Often times, fear is what prevents us from being receptive to happiness. Fear is usually the blockage in our lives which separates us here, from there.
DATING & HAPPINESS
I will give you an example: single people have a very detailed list of their dream partner. “They will look like this; have this type of car; have this type of job; have this size body part; be this tall; be this popular…” And the list goes on-and-on, becoming more detailed, more exact, and more non-negotiable.
However, has one ever stopped to think: your list in a partner is firm, known, and set…but what do YOU bring to the table?
It’s not so much about what another person can offer you, but what you can offer each other. And this becomes reality shattering when one faces accountability. What fears are you bringing to the table? Are you afraid to be loved? What do you lose, by being loved & vulnerable? Who do you fear becoming by being attached?
And so, most in the modern dating world, keep their walls held high. Their bodies open, but their hearts closed. It’s simply: a lot of fear. But let’s save that discussion for a future time.
Therefore, happiness isn’t just about knowing you want it. But knowing how to receive it, amplify it, and fully embrace it…if it does indeed exist someplace—somewhere “out there”—in the future.
This brings me to my next point.
MONEY & HAPPINESS
Success is subjective. Most would say, money is success. And while we can all agree money is important and exists as a representation of the symbolic flow of value and energy, it doesn’t change you into a better person, a bad person, or a good person—money amplifies who you already are.
Money doesn’t buy you happiness. It temporarily buys you pleasure. Just ask Dan Brazilian:
Because, there are those who get caught in lifestyle inflation, where their spending is focused on impressing others with what they can buy and flaunt on social media. We feed our egos, at the expense of starving our fulfillment, happiness, contentment, and joy.
And there are others who are part of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retiring Early). Who are more about nourishing their positions in the stock market, and letting their wonder of compounding interest work for them. So they can reduce the number of years they work, and enjoy life comfortably.
Success isn’t about the amount of money you have (because just like compounding interest, someone will always be more exponentially financially wealthier than you). But more about if you enjoy how you make your money, and how you utilize it to improve the wellbeing of your life factors around you.
The point is to live financially comfortable, where your basic necessities are met. Learning how to appreciate and have gratitude for the minimum with what you can survive with, is a good discipline into the mindset of happiness—and its correlation to success.
OBJECTS & HAPPINESS
An important question, when it comes to buying objects: “Why am I spending on this?” The answer to that, revealed as a need or a want, will help you understand yourself and what drives you; much deeper.
Furthermore, please don’t spend money to impress others, especially strangers. Or those followers on your social media. It’s an empty losing battle. Spend your wealth on the things which nobody can take away from you unless you consent: health, family (biological or chosen), and meaningful friendships.
SHOULD YOU BE HAPPY ALL THE TIME?
No! And please don’t fall into the cult promoted idea that you should—in order to attract everything you set on your vision board. *rolls eyes*
Why though? Isn’t the point of life, to be happy? Yes. But only embracing the “happy side” of yourself, is completely ignoring the other side which makes you whole. A whole, is complete. Incorporating both sides of polarity.
When you deny yourself to feel moments of sadness, grief, sorrow, hurt, vulnerability; you are robbing yourself the ability to embrace your humanity.
Plus, it’s just not healthy to bottle up, especially hard emotions. Ever known a bottler? Yeah. Not very pleasant people to interact with, let alone get into conflict with. Life is about processing and release. Not hoarding and constipating yourself.
Sometimes, by knowing the depths of our sorrows and griefs, we are able to utilize it to become better people. By vowing to never be as unpleasant—or as ugly—as the people who have mistreated or hurt us.
And that is powerful. Because we break a cycle that spreads more hurt. And instead, we walk this world with pride, empowerment, and happiness—because of it.
BALANCE & HAPPINESS
I want you to consider “The Way of the Tao”. You might know it more simply as the yin-yang symbol.
Life is a balance of duality. So are your emotions. I hope the words “equilibrium” and “homeostasis” means something to you. If not, learn of it, and vibe with it.
You—the center of awareness—set to experience the wide spectrum unique to your individual brain/mind chemistry and forged through the experiences of the past.
Visualize a pendulum, hanging above the center of a line. A line between two separate sides. In life: you are the pendulum, swaying back and forth from the centerline of balance. Constantly trying to achieve equilibrium & homeostasis.
And just as all pendulums do, they always sway equally to the opposite side of the line. Think of your life in the same way. The bigger your wins, the bigger your losses too. The more erratic and manic your highs are, the lows will be balanced out with the same intensity.
The trick is, to not sway too far this way, or too far that way. Especially, don’t get stuck on either side. But remaining with present gratitude, near the centerline of equilibrium.
Finally, the secret factor in cultivating happiness is gratitude. Gratitude is about accepting where you are right now. That you may be on your path to achieving life goals, but you are not incomplete just because you haven’t obtained them.
Consider how that perspective shift, can be very empowering in the moment. And guess what? Empowered people make choices that ultimately lead them to exactly where they want to be. And exactly where they are going.
YOU ARE ENOUGH
When you come from a place of “you are enough” and “you have enough” it allows you to be receptive to possibilities and opportunities. And this mindset is a vibe others can feel and sense in your presence. It exudes quiet confidence. An “it factor”. A je ne sais quoi?
And people love, confidence—confidence coming from a place of integrity. Because people naturally always flock and grasp towards the things they don’t have. And most in society are struggling really hard with confidence right now. Confidence is in short supply. Modern marketing and capitalism have profited off of the insecure and making others be insecure.
insecurity = lack of empowerment + lack of gratitude
In future posts, we’ll discover how to get you to know, embrace, & develop empowerment. And own that you really are: enough.
Also, why contentment, is much more sustainable to aim for, than happiness. I highly recommend reading my favorite book on this article’s topic, “Spontaneous Happiness” by Dr. Andrew Weil (https://amzn.to/2HxsiS7)*.
Stay well until next time,
* This post may contain affiliate links. You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.