Internal happiness is an exceptional quality and a big achievement for many people even though only the fewest among us can say that they are internally fulfilled and happy. Since we are little children, we get conditioned by society, advertising, friends and many other influences to look for happiness outside of ourselves. Modern society made us think that we need to buy these pairs of shoes, do this kind of vacation or be this kind of famous rockstar in order to be finally happy. Consumer culture got the best of us and we are buying more these times than we ever did before. Every single day, people buy new things out of internal discontent with the ultimate intention to draw happiness out of possessions. Even though there are many cool things to buy, people will only get a short, dirty high of emotions perceived as „happiness“, while soon finding out that they are back where they were before and nothing of their long term happiness really changed.
The currently most common trends for young people are the so called „fitness lifestyle“ and the „entrepeneur“ trend, shown mostly by social networks like Instagram, Youtube and Facebook. Right now, if you go on Instagram, everybody is suddenly promoting being a hard hustler, entrepreneur or manager and that we will finally be happy as soon as we become exceptionally wealthy. Other ones are completely emerged into the Fitness&Health lifestyle, where they think they will finally be happy as soon as they reach a special amount of body fat or muscle size.
Of course, nothing is bad about improving your health, financial situation or career issues. Still, just as it is with the consumer culture, we can’t rely on external goods to be happy internally.
In order to understand this very complicated issue, let us make a nuanced point here that is not based on simple, complete truths but more of an integrated, two sided coin perspective. Even though we just stated that no fame, career, money or possession is going to make us happy, we still have to see it’s value. Driving a nice car, living in our dream house, working on our dream job as an entrepreneur, having high quality health, looking into the mirror proudly and many so called „external things“ do have their place in the equation and their value can’t be denied. The big question is what kind of a look we have on them and what we expect to get out of them.
Also, we have to take into the equation that nobody is the same and for all of us, other things will make us happy. For one of us, having a family with children, living in a nice house and working a nice job will be the big dream while others among us feel the most alive when they are on big adventures, experiencing the world, seeing new cultures without any responsibilities and duties.
Even though finding a general guidance for happiness is really hard and can’t be done just like that, in this article we will goo deep into the issue of external vs internal happiness while at the same time trying to find underlying core values and principles that can be true for all human beings. We might not be able to say that this specific car will make you more happy than this jacket, but we will definitely be able to take a look at the underlying core life principle just like the one that no external good will give us long term happiness and that we will get bored of it, just as we get used to everything else we bought so far within our lives. Let’s dive into the topic and make some real nuanced statements.
1.The External Trap
Referring back to consumer culture, society, advertising and capitalism made us believe that we need to have different possessions to finally feel complete and be happy. What makes this even more dangerous is that today, people often times state those things as not being important, denying their value while at the same time fully buying into their importance beneath the surface. We often times hear people say that it’s about internal values and that things like money don’t matter but deep down inside we still believe that money, looks, possessions, vacation and all of those external goods will make us happy. Do you really believe that if you would have 1 Million Dollars right now you wouldn’t be at least 1% more happy? Of course you do think that more money or the new car will make you happy. We all experienced the „happiness“, that short dirty high we get out of buying new things or getting our salary and we will keep experiencing it on a daily basis as long as our internal compass is guiding us into the same direction.
Do you remember that day when you bought your current phone or tablet? The way you removed the foil of the touch screen as if it was something holy? How you held it in your hands and you where so happy about this new gadget that you couldn’t even put it into words?
Now let me ask you how your phone looks like now. Is it still giving you this tremendous flash of positive emotions every time you look at it or did you get used to it, throwing it on the bed and already looking for the next better one?
When it comes to materialistic possessions, all of us have experienced that they will seem to make us happy for a short brief moment but long term we will always be back to our base line of happiness. No matter if it is something very small like the little toy car as a child, the smartphone as a teenager or the car as an adult, we will always loose the „happiness“ we get out of external things while at the same time striving for new, bigger things to have and expecting them to finally make us feel complete.
Believing in external happiness doesn’t just relate to buying materialistic stuff, it also means believing that other things outside of yourself like friendships, a relationship, the perfect job, being rich, being famous, having good looks and everything else is finally going to make you happy. Of course with people it’s different to a big degree. Real friendship will be there for us probably our entire life to support us. Also will we spend almost 8 hours of each day working on our job so if we have a shitty job, it’s much harder to stay happy and not get into dissatisfaction with our lives. Still, believing that it’s only those external things that will make us happy will ultimately end in big emotional fluctuations since all external is changing and can’t be sustained forever. Due to the fact that all universe is constantly changing and fleeting, things out of our control will happen and we won’t be able to keep all of our circumstances as they are. Money can be lost, things can get broken, people can die, relationships can end and sickness can happen.
Now this doesn’t mean at all that we shouldn’t care about relationships, love, health, finances and career. In contrary, those are the most important areas of life as we will see later, but still, we have to look for the deeper core principle and see that no matter what we get externally, we will always move back to that base line of happiness while becoming used to what we’ve acquired.
2.The Base Line Of Happiness
As we already mentioned, while we are experiencing dirty flashes of happiness every single time we buy or achieve something new we almost never take a look at the hidden truth that there is a base line happiness we always get back to not matter what. The ultimate goal is not just to experience more of those external flashes of positive emotions that we get out of bettering our own unique, amazing lifestyle but also generally heightening the base line of our internal happiness. In order to not always be thrown around between unhappiness and happiness, the ultimate goals is to get generally more happy and get less attached to all of those circumstances that lie outside of ourselves. Raising up your internal happiness while becoming more appreciative and grateful for external sources but at the same time letting go of them and not being too attached to any external thing that could be lost. So as we can see, the formula consists of two sides and it’s not just internal happiness and external happiness. It’s both mixed up in a balanced way that will help us to find long term happiness and joy in life.
3.Raise your internal happiness
For raising our base line of happiness there are different things we can do proactively on the basis of our mental willpower and discipline. The first and utterly most important thing to realize is that long term happiness is a choice we can make ourselves and not something that is just happening to us randomly. Every single day, we can make the choice to be positive, outgoing and happy for what we have instead of complaining about everything that is not perfect within our personal lives. Generally, we have to understand and see the truth within the fact that there will always be someone who has it better than us no matter what we do. We can be the most wealthy, good looking or healthy person but there will be always someone ahead of us in those areas. So instead of looking for why we can’t be happy right now, we can stop the mental race of thinking we are not there yet and simply see happiness not as a destination but as a life philosophy.
-Happiness is not a destination but a life philosophy-
Just like you can build your muscles in the gym, you can also build your mental muscle and look for positivity, gratitude and happiness instead of letting yourself dragged down by unproductive thoughts and self-images.
Everything in life is a subjective experience through different paradigms in which people see the world just as different colored paired of glasses which influence they way we see the colors around us. If you want to get ahead in life, make sure to interpret things the right way, to have the right pair of glasses on and ultimately to see as much as possible in a positive manner. Also, realize that just as your last 10 years went by just like that, also soon enough looking back your life will be over in the same quick way. Life seems to be only a short span of light so make sure that you are completely aware of how you spend your time and ask yourself if you really want to spend it complaining, having bad emotions and just feeling shitty the whole day because of things you can’t change. Never forget, happiness is an art of living, it’s a choice you make, not a destination to acquire.
4.Find Your Direction And Go For It
Also vital for acquiring internal happiness is the idea behind the fact that each of us is wired differently, with different values and different paradigms. What makes someone else happy won’t necessarily make you happy so don’t ever make the mistake to copy someone else for the sake of the beauty of your own individuality.
-Human beings are all equally beautiful but beautifully different-
In order to have a stronger sense for personal worth, it’s vital to find out what it is that YOU care most about in your life and always having that end in mind. Therefore, we need to make a conscious decision to develop our internal happiness proactively by figuring out what we want to get out of life and being completely honest to ourselves with this. Knowing in which direction really to move without thinking about what others expect you to do or what you’ve been told to do by society, parents, friends, teachers and others is of extreme importance for the happiness that comes from within. Therefore, let us now go on a mental tour throughout a church. You see a big room within a church or any other building that you would describe as a holy place. Then, you see that in the middle of the room there is a big coffin. You slowly walk towards the coffin and start to that you are the one laying in this box. You look at yourself and see that you simply look like you do right now. Now, as you look around, you suddenly realize that all the people of your life are standing around you, taking a look at your body, one after one, crying and saying goodbye to you. You realize that this is your funeral and that now the people are going to start talking about you and your personality. They will say what kind of an impact you had on their lives, what you stand for, what you taught them and what kind of role model you were. One after one, first your friends are going to go on the stage, then your spouse or husband, later your children, your co -workers, your boss, your parents, your mentors, students and all the other people for whom you play a role in their lives. Now ask yourself, what would you want them to tell about you? You want them to say you made a lot of money and had many possessions, or does it seem less important now that you take death into the equation? Ask yourself, what does really matter? It might be love, legacy or something else that you you want them to be able to say about you. As long as you do this mental exercise as honest as possible, you will be able to tap into your true, unconditioned self and you will know what it is that you really value. Since now you can begin with the end in mind, you can form life principles that guide your decisions, your behavior, your discipline, your professional career, your habits and everything else that plays a role within your life.
Finding out what it is that you want in life, what kind of person you would like to be, and then moving into that direction without any hesitation and with complete integrity by the use of having written down core life principles that you are living by will fuel your internal happiness like something you’ve never even experienced before.
We want you to take a moment now and think if you know anything alive that is not growing anymore. Even old people will have constant renewal of their cells. Even their body is flooded with blood which transports vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients throughout their body so that they can grow and be renewed. Every plant on this planet, every animal, every human being is meant to grow and rise. Growth is the ultimate result of life and if there is no growth, then their is stagnation and ultimately death.
Just as a plant will grow into height and produce new cells, also we as humans will be the happiest if we see growth in different projects and life aspects. In order to fuel your internal happiness, start to grow in all the 5 different areas of life: Physical, Economical, Emotional,Mental and Spiritual.
Throughout different habits like eating healthy food, don’t drinking alcohol or smoking, regular sports and enough rest, we can live a healthy lifestyle which will support our internal happiness to be more stable and we will be able to experience even more external happiness since we look better, get compliments and have more energy to do new things.
By making sure that we are living below our means, saving, investing and reinvesting money on as a habit, we will be able to grow also in our financial situation, feel more safe and we will be able to support our family, friends and live the lifestyle with all the different materialistic things it requires without having any attachment or dependency on them while still feeling gratitude for being able to have those.
Learning to communicate with others in a way where we show respect, having honest interest in others, supporting their growth and learning to have empathy while growing in our relationships will give our life much more meaning and fuel our internal happiness as a byproduct since we know we are meeting our most important values.
By making sure that we are constant learners that train their minds throughout reading books, going to seminars and watching tutorials we can grow in our professional skills, broaden our horizon and even become more intelligent as humans.
Last but not least also our spiritual side of life has to be developed since it is giving meaning to our lives. If you take a look at a boat then while seeing the body of the boat as our physical part of life, we can describe the spiritual side as the ocean on which the boat is able to drift towards the horizon. Our spiritual part of life is what gives us the ultimate direction towards living a life of complete fulfillment, love and the deep knowledge that we are in connection with the universe as an integrated, symbiotic part of the ultimate everything. By growing in our spiritual side, we will develop the ultimate character traits like humility, gratitude, calmness and true unconditional love not just for our fellows but also for humanity itself.
Finally, to put it all in a nutshell, as human beings, we have to see that just as buddhism describes, being attached to external factors for your own happiness will ultimately lead towards emotional instability and the constant fear of loosing what you have since nothing can be sustained forever. Looking back at yourself, realizing that internal happiness is choice and not a destination, while at the same time taking proactive action to improve your personal life ares with the ultimate intention to feel like you are on a path of progress will give your life meaning and purpose. Also, not forgetting that everything in life has it’s place and not judging yourself for liking external and also materialistic things while at the same time having gratitude for them and being unattached will lead you to become an integrated, holistic human being with the ultimate realization of balance between internal and external happiness.