“There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path”
A pen. A paper. A quiet place.
Let’s say we have these three things. Our task is to write the story of our life.
In one sentence.
It cannot be just another story.
It has to be the truest, most authentic story, of this very moment of our life.
What will it be about?
What will be the narrative?
What thoughts will appear on this paper, and what will be deleted?
What will we choose?
Our choice is magic.
HAPPINESS IS THE BY-PRODUCT OF A STATE OF BEING
Happiness is almost impossible to define.
Though external factors influence happiness, it still remains a very subjective experience.
Happiness is not a goal but a by-product that comes alive upon achieving specific standards/metrics.
The balance often tilts towards understanding these standards in terms of “external factors.”
Money. Achievements. Relationships. Recognition. Vacations. The list goes on.
There is definitely some truth to this. Each of the above items increases our chances of building quality experiences and positive memories that improve our overall sense of well-being and mood.
For example, money = purchasing power = access to opportunities = access to quality = access to stability, security, and safety.
Similarly, relationships/friendships = support = community = sense of belonging.
Those are big problems solved.
But not everyone starts with a wheel. Think of young children – the wheel they inherit has little to do with their own efforts, and a lot to do with divinity.
Additionally, the shelf life of each of the above “items” is, to a large extent, limited. Any sense of control one is taught to exercise over the “external building blocks of happiness” is illusory.
There is a high chance that, more often than not, the wheel of acquisitions will go out of form. A bump in the road. A detour. An earthquake.
What is it that fills these blank spaces?
There is only one constant companion in the journey of mergers, acquisitions, and forfeiture of the various “metrics of happiness” in our everyday lives.
Those we wake up to, carry with us throughout the day and go to sleep with.
Whether we realise it or not, our thoughts always tell us a story – of the past, present, and future. About people. Of people.
And though it sounds difficult to process at first, this story is the only thing we have control over.
THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPERIENCING HAPPINESS THROUGH POSITIVE STORYTELLING
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west every day.
Based on these facts, one way of perceiving the sun is as a plain overly-bright object of fire that lacks an element of surprise and spontaneity. On the other hand, the moon appears endearing and exciting, for it has many moods, artistic value, and calming effects.
The other way of perceiving the sun is as a disciplined, reliable, and steady source of infinite energy that nurtures every life that comes in touch with its sunshine. Against this, the moon lacks the gravitas, courage, and strength needed to create and sustain life.
It all depends on “what” we choose to see and “why.”
The same logic applies to the self.
One can perceive oneself as “lost” or “on the path to self-discovery,” “alone,” or “in the process of creating new fulfilling relationships,” “limited,” or “limitless.”
Nobody can interfere with this ability of perception.
It is purely within our control.
Isn’t that powerful?
What if we chose the emotion we wanted to experience and adopted the perspective/story that enabled us to experience that emotion? We can adopt a view that brings joy if joy is the aim. If peace is the aim, we can adopt a perspective that brings peace.
The loss of a loved one is a moment of unsurmountable grief or the beginning of an eternal celebration of the essence and memories of the person who no longer exists; a differently abled child will have to work harder than others or has the potential to inspire millions; it is too late to follow one’s passions at age 40 or life has just begun; a one-word email from a colleague implies they are angry about something or simply that they were pressed for time.
Life can be optimized to create a “state of being” conducive to one’s well-being by mastering the art of perception.
What if every child is taught the art of positive perception and the power of empowered storytelling in school? Wouldn’t this be an excellent antidote to unnecessary stress and worry that plagues the minds of many? A tool that makes happiness more easily accessible? A way to sustain happiness through thick and thin?
After all, the only place one is truly free is in the mind. That freedom deserves to be preserved and held sacred, free from narratives that serve no uplifting purpose.