Finding happiness in every day situations

Happiness cannot be found. It is something we experience.

I am a Humanist educator and teach humanist approaches to happiness.  Seeking happiness is a sure fire way to be unhappy.   The reason seeking happiness leads to unhappiness appears to be that it causes us to think selfishly. We tend to experience happiness in those moments, when we are focused on the needs of others.  When we get out of our heads and thinking about how we might help other people. The active practice of compassion is helpful and necessary to this process.

Let’s consider commuting as an example. 

If you take public transport – your goal is to get from point A to point B. You have to do a lot of things to accomplish this. You have to get your fare, get to the right place, get on the right transit vehicle and get off at the correct stop. Chances are – it is probably crowded.  You may be tired but there are no seats. It is hard to be “happy” or “content” in this sort of situation. Why – because everything I just described is your thoughts about your tasks and other people – are seen as obstacles to your success.

If, on the other hand, you view everyone with compassion. Instead of seeing obstacles everywhere, you now see fellow travelers – all trying to do the same thing you are.  Who are these people? Where are they going? Those are interesting questions. Have you ever struck up a conversation to find out?  Even if you don’t, the attitude of – thinking about others compassionately – feels good. Way better than feeling frustrated that all these people are in your way.

The question you have to ask yourself is this – which would you rather feel – curiosity and solidarity? Or frustration?  Rationally – most people would chose curiosity and solidarity. All it requires is a slight shift away from your thoughts – to thinking about others.

If you are commuting via car – the same dynamic plays out. These other people in their cars – are in YOUR way. It’s frustrating.  But, if you instead view yourself and everyone else stuck in that traffic jam with compassion, your entire viewpoint changes. Now, you feel solidarity with the people in the cars around you. You are in this together.  Getting through it together. How can you help everyone get through this?  Practicing conscientiousness to help others in similar situations, isn’t a burden – it’s liberating.  It gets you out of your head with your concerns – and opens up your mind and helps you feel connected to other people.

One of the biggest existential angsts we humans have is feeling isolated. Compassion – helps us feel connected. It helps us feel – happy.

Hope this helps.  FYI – I have an online course where I teach these “tweaks” to how we think.  

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