Home Family & Relationship Finding a Friend Along Our Life Journey: Happiness

Finding a Friend Along Our Life Journey: Happiness

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Do you remember the last time you put on a big smile? A smile or laugh that brings out your inner self, filled with contentment, relief, and genuine happiness. If you can’t recall, let’s put it this way: what makes you happy? No matter what your answers are, keep them in mind and stay through the end.

Why is it so hard to be truly happy?

Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. From societal pressures to the complexities of our own minds, there are different factors that can make the pursuit of happiness feel like an uphill battle. Here are two examples:

Delayed gratification

Have you heard of the marshmallow test? The pre-schoolers were offered a marshmallow on a plate, and if they could resist eating it for 10 minutes without supervision of others, they would be rewarded with another new marshmallow. When you are able to forgo immediate rewards for greater future benefits, you are practising the term “delayed gratification”.

Living in a world where everything is available at the click of a button, we might become accustomed to seeking immediate pleasure and satisfaction. For example, you might find yourself hard to resist the urge to buy any fashion clothes, despite knowing that you have to save up money to pursue study so that you can live your dream life.

This mindset hard to resist current temptation”, can make you difficult to practise delayed gratification. As you prioritise short-term pleasure over long-term well-being, you may start to find yourself trapped in a cycle of fleeting happiness and unfulfilled desires.

Deferred happiness syndrome

Many of us fall prey to what psychologists refer to as “deferred happiness syndrome”. This phenomenon occurs when we pin our happiness on future events or achievements, believing that once we attain a certain goal or milestone, we’ll finally be happy.

Whether it’s landing the dream job, finding the perfect partner, or achieving financial success, we convince ourselves that happiness lies just beyond the horizon. However, when we finally reach our desired destination, we may discover that the happiness we were chasing was merely an illusion, and we’re left feeling empty and dissatisfied.

Uncover 4 levels of happiness

According to Aristotle’s philosophy, there are four levels of happiness:

  • Level 1: Laetus. This involves seeking immediate gratification and sensory delights. It encompasses experiences that bring us joy in the moment, such as enjoying a delicious meal or watching a captivating movie.
  • Level 2: Felix. We experience this level of happiness when it comes to downward comparison comparing ourselves to others whom we perceive as worse off than us. Such comparative advantage makes us feel confident and happy. This may include gaining more wealth or fame, achieving a higher social status as compared to others.
  • Level 3: Beatitudo. As we transition to a deeper level of happiness, we come to contribute to others. This entails finding fulfilment and purpose through serving others and making a positive impact in the world. For instance, it can be volunteering for a charitable cause, or simply offering a helping hand to someone in need.
  • Level 4: Sublime beatitude. Finally, we arrive at the highest level of happiness. It involves living in accordance with our true nature and realising our full potential as human beings. Cultivating virtues such as wisdom, courage, compassion, and engaging in activities that align with our deepest values. This is where we live in harmony with our inner selves, experiencing a profound sense of fulfilment.

What makes you happy?

Ah, the million-dollar question: what exactly makes you happy? Well, the answer may vary from person to person.

For some, having lots of money may be their source of happiness. However, a study found that individuals with high income experienced life satisfaction instead of happiness overall. To experience a higher level of happiness, it’s not about just satisfying your basic necessities. Research showed that spending that money to acquire valuable experiences actually increases happiness. For instance, engage in activities that align with your passions and interests.

Practising gratitude is another powerful tool to boost our happiness levels. Taking the time to appreciate the good things in our lives whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a kind gesture from a stranger, or a simple moment of quiet reflection – this can shift our focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant, and bring a greater sense of positivity. Let’s try it out next time and notice the changes in your happiness levels.

How about performing acts of kindness? Research found that when people were asked to recall a purchase made for someone else, they felt significantly happier immediately after this recollection. This feeling seemed to extend to the fact that they were more likely to engage in prosocial behaviour a voluntary act to benefit others, in the future. Perhaps making a difference in the lives of others can be incredibly rewarding.

The ultimate goal of finding happiness

It’s about recognising that happiness is not a destination to be reached but rather a journey to be embraced a journey filled with ups and downs, joys and sorrows. And through it all, we have the power to cultivate a mindset of gratitude, resilience, and compassion that allows us to find joy and fulfilment in the here and now.

So, as we navigate the winding road of life, let’s remember to savour the small moments, cherish the connections that bring us joy, and pursue our passions with gusto. For in the end, it’s not the destination that matters most, but the journey itself and our friend happiness, which we discover along the way.

Now, what kind of journey do you wish to embark on with the companion of your invisible friend happiness?

Crystal Khoo holds a degree in psychology from the University of Reading Malaysia. She has a keen interest in exploring the human mind and sharing her knowledge with a wider audience. 

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