Happiness is the one thing we all want most in this life, and something I bet you are searching for it right now. If so, well…I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re never going to find it. The fact that you are even looking for happiness means that you don’t quite understand it. I was in that same boat a few years ago. Let me teach you what I learned.
As a middle school student you probably learned about the science of energy. If so, you learned that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It’s fascinating! Energy simply exists, waiting for us to harness it for our use.
Well, happiness is the opposite of energy. Happiness does not and cannot exist on its own in nature. Happiness is not a commodity that can be bought or paid for. It is also not a wily creature living in the dark corners of the earth, laughing at our attempts to capture and keep it. It is not a thing that merely attaches itself to a person, a place, or an event, and waits for us to run into it someday.
No, the reason that you will not find happiness is because it cannot be found. To have it, one must first CREATE it.
Let me repeat, happiness is created. By you. By me. You’ve probably heard that happiness is a choice. Having dealt with depression in my life, I have a hard time believing this idea. When the world around you has been sapped of its color, it is almost impossible to simply choose to feel happiness. Likewise, sometimes we face challenges that seem so insurmountable and our hearts are twisted so tightly that it feels like all the happiness has been totally wrung out of them. “Choosing” to put that happiness back would be like attempting to put all the drops of water back into a dried-out dishrag.
Creating happiness is different. When you create happiness, you are building something new—something that didn’t exist before. You are not simply filling the void of an old happiness that you have lost. You have to work to make something unique that will open up spaces in your heart you never knew existed and re-inflate it in a new way.
Learning to create happiness is not always easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I wasted a lot of time early in life thinking I’ll be happy when—I’ll be happy when I go to college… I’ll be happy when I graduate college… I’ll be happy as soon as I begin a real career… I’ll be happy when I get married and have a family. But as I started to reach some of those milestones, I was disappointed to find that the happiness that I had imagined secured to them was not there.
So I decided to change. I decided to try creating my own happiness. When life was hard, I would take a deep breath and step away from life. Creating happiness can be as simple as that. It can be taking time to notice the beauties around you. It can be painting a picture, participating in a hobby, or doing something nice for someone in need. Do something that you enjoy, try something new, tackle something big that you’ve always wanted to do. Don’t be afraid to be silly or to mess up. Just go for it! You are bringing something new into existence! Put your all into it, and you will be able to feel happiness being created. Involve others—people you care about like friends and family—and you will be almost sure to create happiness.
When I was in college, playing Rock Band was something I did to create happiness. It may sound dumb, but it worked for me. I would crank up the sound, strap on a guitar, and dance around the room as I played on the keys. When one of my roommates walked by and saw me doing this, laughter would invariably ensue. Then she would usually join me, and the little bubble of happiness that I had formed for myself would grow and grow until it engulfed us both. I created happiness in other ways as well. I found ways to serve others and to take joy in menial tasks. When I put my heart into creating happiness, I found it was easy to carry around with me. There was no longer a need to wait for it to fall into my lap.
Sure, I still had bad days, hard weeks, and even devastating months. But I knew that no matter what happened, happiness would not evade me forever because I had the capacity within me to create it again. And you know what? I believe it is because I learned to do this that I even achieved some of those goals that I used to dream would bring happiness to me! Creating happiness has helped me reach my goals, but more importantly it has made life not only bearable but wonderfully enjoyable.
Please stop looking for happiness. You will never find it. Sometimes it may seem as though you have, but believe me if you didn’t create it, what you have found will be both false and fleeting. Real happiness is something you create for yourself.
Side note: If you’re having a hard time getting started and aren’t sure exactly how to make happiness, go do something nice for someone else. Service is one of the easiest ways to grow a little sprout of happiness because it involves helping another to create their own.