Today Anthony Bourdain killed himself and a dear friend of mine asked (on facebook), what is that can makes us be happy?
It’s a tough question and it’s easy to dismiss it as “money can’t buy happiness”.
Truth is, happiness has many pitfalls, the main one is that there exist a definite image of happiness, the one where everything goes well and nothing goes wrong.
If we tie our minds to this image as our way to define our success in life it’s clear that, at some point, we will understand that we are failing too much and therefore it’s impossible to achieve it.
Another pitfall is that we link together happiness and success, thus we link our emotional state to what we achieve or not, and the subsequent message is that if we don’t achieve, we’re not worth it.
If we always achieve each goal, we might even be happy, but that is not guaranteed, why? Let’s look at Bourdain, he had everything, yet he killed himself.
We might think that it’s this desire to go forth that makes us alive, therefore we need to keep improving in a neverending search for perfection, but isn’t it like following the aforementioned image of the perfect happiness?
Another pitfall is when we say: Happiness is not a goal, it’s a journey.
Which, by the way, is probably one of the most realistic way of describing happiness, yet it contains another pitfall: that happiness is in each and every day. Like if we should find happiness in our days and so on.
What happens if we get 100 shitty days? guess what…
So? Should we surrender to the fact that we can’t be happy?
Well… I’m an optimistic person, and yet there’s one thing I’m sure of: you (we) will get bad days.
Days when work will go bad, days when you’ll have no money, days when a friend will day or be seriously sick, days when everything will go wrong.
You can’t avoid them. They will be there, and you can’t even ignore them or faking your emotional state.
And here it lies the biggest pitfall of all: the idea that happiness is something we can find outside.
Happiness, or a better defined “calmness” is something we can only achieve within. Nothing from the outside can give us a stable emotional state, and as long as everything from the outside can decide how we feel we’ll be always influenced by them, instead of us.
Whenever I write things like this I’m always worried about the whole self-help circle, because if you’re into the self-help methodology of books and so on you might think that by “thinking of being happy” you are working on this “finding happiness within”, but no. It’s not that.
We can manipulate our emotional status, but to build a foundation, a balance that comes from within this won’t be enough. You’ll easily notice that you are still influenced by the waves of life, and you’ll need to recover through the same “self-help” tricks.
Which obviously means you’re simply using a temporary cure, not something definitive.
So yeah, life will always throw shit at you, and no, happiness is not linked with something material like money, work, or job.
If it is, it’s because it’s the wrong happiness, you’re being tricked.