What are the happiest moments of your life?
I'll go first. My happiest moments include: qualifying as a dentist, getting married, the holidays I've been on, and moving into the flat. Even thinking back, I still smile.
But there's a problem with my list. It's full of the big, memorable moments. They're the milestones that don't come around too often. And they're moments I won't experience again (hopefully anyway, I don't plan to be like Ross with his 3 divorces). This means for the majority of my life, I won't be my happiest self.
Happiness is elusive. We never know when we're going to have it and we work so hard for it. It finally comes but not for long. Soon we're back to another chase.
Social media only makes this worse. Our feeds present happiness as luxury holidays, extravagant parties, more friends, and material goods. A life of wealth, glamour, and excitement. This creates the illusion that happiness is reserved only for a few but it's something we should all be striving for. But the pursuit for happiness quickly becomes a never-ending search. And I don't know about you, but it leaves me feeling exhausted, stressed, burnt out, and quite frankly, unhappy.
This is why happiness is a trap. It's not something we should be striving for. Instead of chasing happiness, we should be looking for something else: joy.
The similarities between them are deceiving. But pay attention to the nuances and your life will open up to you.
- Happiness is found externally in other people, things and places. Joy is found internally within ourselves.
- Happiness is rooted in circumstance. Joy is a choice.
- Happiness isn't always within reach. Joy is found in any moment at any time.
- We look for happiness in the future. Joy grounds us in the present.
- Happiness is fleeting. Joy is constant.
- We never feel like we have enough when we chase happiness. Our hearts swells with gratitude when we look for joy.
- You lose yourself looking for happiness. You find yourself in joy.
- Happiness makes you rush and chase. Joy allows you to slow down and savour.
I no longer seek happiness. I no longer spend my days hoping it will arrive. Instead, I focus on finding joy. I look for smiles, laughter, peace, and serendipity. I strive to experience more of life with the moments I already have.
☕️ The cosiness of a cup of tea
🐕 When Rolo, our dog, curls up next to me
🌲 Forest walks
🪟The sound of rain against a window
🌅 Watching the sun rise and set, turning the sky into a palette of hues
🥰 Cuddling up to my husband
🥘 Home-cooked meals with the family
🎲 Playing boardgames with my friends
🧖🏽♀️ The warm embrace of my dressing gown
🍂 Watching the seasons change
A lot of us overcomplicate our lives by chasing after happiness. We think once we reach a certain level of financial freedom, we'll be able to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures. But joy isn't like happiness. We don't need to wait until some distant future to enjoy it, it's here right now.
You won't find joy on your Instagram feed. That will put you back on the chase of happiness. You'll find joy in your own life. And it's everywhere.