Where does happiness come from? Certainly, other people, any number of experiences and even possessions can make us happy. We experience joy from entertainment, our careers and our success. It does happen. The problem is that those external things aren’t reliable. They eventually fail. People are imperfect, jobs become frustrating, entertainment goes stale, and the world doesn’t always conform to our wishes. Trouble comes. Success eludes us.
Susanna Halonen obtained a Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology and became a life coach after abandoning her unfulfilling corporate career. “Because I finally understood that success doesn’t fuel happiness,” she says. “It’s happiness that fuels success.”
If you think a new car will make you happy, you’re probably right. Eventually, however, the car needs to be repaired, or you have an accident. Or the new wears off. You might find yourself wishing for an even newer car with fancier seats and more gadgets. At first, the car is a wish and a goal. Then, the car is the successful outcome of your process toward that goal. Later, the car comes to represent something you no longer want. If you’re looking for lasting happiness, it won’t help to indulge in an endless search for external gratification of ever-changing wants and needs.
How to find happiness
So where can we look for happiness?
We can look inside ourselves. The most reliable form of happiness resides within.
When I think about my own life, the challenges and moments of joy, the times of trouble and periods of hope, I realize that happiness comes from inner peace. A consistent feeling of happiness starts with what I like to think of as the 3 A’s:
Attitude of Acceptance
Letting things be, without forcing life to conform to rigid expectations. Working with what life offers rather than compulsively trying to control it.
An optimistic outlook, a willingness to believe in possibilities, to see that something better might be around the corner.
An ability to see what’s already good in life, gratitude for what exists and is positive.
Intrinsic happiness goes deeper and lasts longer than extrinsic happiness. Acceptance, assurance and appreciation all come from the inside. The best way to reach for happiness is by looking within.