Is Happiness Found in the Self?

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A lot of people or places may tell you happiness is found within, and isn’t external to you. There are 2 main problems with this however.

    1. What even is true happiness?
    2. And how can it be brought about by just the self?

True Happiness

What is it? And how and why do we constantly chase it? Because that’s really what life can be boiled down to, a chase of happiness, sometimes we get really close to it and things seem better than ever, other times we’re way behind and it’s out of sight. But this unfortunately is a race we only finish by dying. Everyone reaches out for happiness, no exceptions.

Do we really even know what we’re chasing though? We can imagine the end result of the chase but not what we’re trying to capture in the now. I don’t think we really know at all, so instead of trying to deal with the theoretical, we attach objects, actions and people to try and understand what we want. This can be absolutely fine for some. Some people genuinely do find their happiness from said things, but for others, attaching things to what we think will bring happiness just clouds it even more.

Happiness is already difficult enough to makes sense of without clouding it with real world stimuli and I think this is what can drive some people to negativity or even depression. When it comes to depression, I think people have metaphorically started walking the race, ergo they’re no longer trying to catch what they want, or what they think they want. And how could you blame them when their raceway seems so insurmountable, coupled with the fact that we’re all chasing something so ambiguous? It really is quite trivial when you think of it this way, you’d think something we try to do for so long would become easy for us after so much experience. That’s not totally untrue though, studies show we do tend to get happier after middle-age, but that topic is a whole other article to be written in about another 25 years.

I think the more we have to think about what true happiness is, the further away from it we get and the less we understand it. It’s a core primal emotional state that doesn’t seem very receptive to manipulation. I imagine genetics, intelligence and everyday living conditions, among many more factors, are prime suspects that affect how easily and by what means happiness is achieved.

Do We Only Need the Self?

I don’t agree with people when they say happiness has to come from within, at least not entirely.

We need external factors to be right for true happiness, but not necessarily the factors we imagine are important. For example, ask just about anyone if they’d like to be rich and famous. You’d likely get a unanimous answers of yes, sometimes a small minority might not enjoy what that entails or already know it’s not necessarily something you might want.

Jim Carrey was quoted saying: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

If doing everything you ever dreamed of isn’t true happiness, then what is? I don’t think we’ll ever understand happiness past the neurotransmitters that work our nervous system and make us feel the way we do.

We need others, we need objects, we need ideas, stories, information. We get attached to these things for better or for worst, we’re very materialistic in human nature. Use these outside factors to unravel what makes you happy, though it may take years upon years to realise what that is. Remember that the self and the outside world have a part to play in this, so do not rely on one too much, that drives people to alcoholism and such.

Good luck in the chase.


– Jamie


Featured Image Provided by Erno Hannink