This is a big question, and one I was asked this week by a friend, and I thought I’d share my answer with you. Firstly let’s explore happiness and what most people think happiness is and how they feel happiness. In the modern day happiness is perceived as excitement, jumping up and down shouting “wooohoo” perhaps, or being out at a bar or club drinking and dancing and laughing with friends. When a person becomes excited a friend will often say, “why are you so happy”. And, if you aren’t smiling, a friend will often say, “why are you so miserable”. If you aren’t excited or displaying physicals signs of enjoyment it may be perceived that you aren’t happy. Happiness is therefore misperceived as a heightened state of mind, one where the mind is overly stimulated, adrenaline is rushing; a natural buzz if you like. If a person is happy in this state, does that mean they aren’t happy when not in this state? And what of introvert personalities, those who naturally don’t overtly display emotion, are they to be classified as not happy? Of course not, because this definition of happiness is wrong.
Those who practice mindfulness will know that true happiness is a natural state, one that comes about through being emotionally stable. A state that is always with you, intoxicated, overjoyed or not. One shouldn’t require a drink or drug to feel happy, everyday life should provide a person with happiness, which I describe as a feeling of contentment and balance. Of course, it is easy to become discontented with life if you are of ill-health or suffering grief, but then advanced mindfulness is capable of healing any negativity you have toward your existence.
I am not suggesting you shouldn’t become overjoyed by good news or laugh your socks off with friends, or go out dancing until 5am with friends and polish off a few bottles of wine together, but if you are living for the weekend to be happy because you know it means overindulgence through a form of escapism, then you aren’t experiencing happiness. Instead what you are experiencing is temporary ecstasy. Sadly this is how many people are living, largely because we aren’t given much chance, encouragement, or the tools to be properly happy. Practicing Mindfulness can lead to stable happiness, a constant, sustainable feeling of appreciating life in a natural and balanced way. So yes, in a way, to be mindful is to be happy. But then what is mindfulness…
This might all sound a bit spiritual, and I’m not afraid to say that it is. Connecting oneself with the earth and loving life for the sole purpose of being a part of the world is a special, spiritual place to be, one that takes practice though daily mindfulness exercise.