For me, “Happy” isn’t some kind of extract from my life that I can manipulate and increase through a system or formula. I can’t manufacture happiness, nor can I force making myself happy. Happiness is one of my emotional responses to whatever experience I happen to be in the moment. Sometimes I respond with joy and sometimes not. I have been in joyful situations and events when I haven’t had even a small glimpse of happiness. And I have been in situations that didn’t seem to evoke a happy response and have felt enormous joy. I can’t manufacture a response to life, I can only be attentive and see what rises in these moments. If the experience enables joy and happiness, it will, if not it won’t.
Happiness happens as a response to experience, the response is heavily influenced by attention, presence, social conditioning, and chemistry (mood/emotions).
So how does happiness rise? What I’ve noticed is when I feel joyful or happy, (Ok I admit that’s not as often as separate self thinks it should!) I’m almost always with others. I can be in a good mood, sometimes laugh, and be joyful when alone. But the moments when the feeling of being happy kicks in are usually with other people, who oddly enough, are also happy in those moments. It’s a shared sensation of humor, love, joy, a connection, and somewhat an act of bonding. Happiness seems like a shared social experience, and engagement, opposed to feeling “Happy” when alone.
I often wonder if I’m not outrageously happy most of the time, but am not paying attention? Sometimes people find that amusing, but I spend so much time not paying attention to these present moments that I could be experiencing all kinds of joy and happiness and simply not notice. I think it’s one of the reasons it’s helpful to have a process of attention, presence, and the ability to contemplate one’s own life and experience. (Or perhaps I miss what a great place I’m in because I’ve been conditioned to seek out “how I feel” at any time and that places great importance and priority on feelings? It seems like the conditioned separate self gets more milage out of feeling bad and suffering than being happy.)
I’ll still take those moments I’m truly engaged and joyful. Happiness comes and goes, presence, appreciation, and gratitude can always be present.
Take care of you and all you love,