We introduced our children to Wii Fit recently and they’ve been loving it. Florin, my 6-year-old, will finish every single game and then say: “Am I happy?” and wait to see if her character is excited (happens when played well) or sad (happens when played poorly). She can roll down the entire hill crashing into things in Wii Fit Skiing and STILL be surprised when her character is crying. On the flip side, she can do an amazing Wii Fit ski jump, but she won’t be happy or excited about it until her character starts jumping up and down with excitement.
Stop Looking Outside Yourself For Happiness
This statement means two things:
1) Don’t Measure Your Happiness Through External Measurements
Just like Florin in the Wii Fit game, we measure our happiness through the eyes of others. Does my boss think I’m a good employee? Then I must be happy. Do people invite me to social events? Then I must be happy. Did I achieve things people think are amazing? Then I must be happy. Do the teachers like my kids? Then I must be happy.
Self-worth and happiness are separate, but intertwined in that we use the measurements of others to determine how good we are or how happy we must be. This must stop.
Happiness is measured by YOU.
2) Stop Substituting for Happiness
There’s an old musical called Pippin where the title character spends the entire play seeking happiness doing all sorts of things. He looks for his “corner in the sky” through war, sex, trying to make people happy, simple living, etc. This journey is the familiar journey of so many people. We try to figure out what we should be doing to create happiness.
Often, we try to fill voids with buying stuff. We use money as a way to make up for the things we feel we lack so we can truly find happiness.
As Pippin discovers, these things don’t bring happiness. In many cases, they cause anguish or leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled.
How Do I Know If I’m Happy?
You won’t ever know if you’re truly happy until you spend some time alone with silence. At the pace of today’s world, we are constantly engaging, interacting, moving, doing, functioning, documenting, reacting. In all of this madness, we may be functioning, but we can’t assess unless we slow down.
Clarity comes in silence.
The person you are in stillness determines who you really are.
When you are forced to be alone with yourself, what do you find?
When you have a few hours to yourself (if you don’t have some, make some!), what do you do? Are you happy with the state of your life? Are you happy with your thoughts, your fears, your goals, your worries, your trajectory?
Being happy doesn’t mean everything is going perfectly. One can find happiness in even the roughest of terrains. The path we are on determines our trajectory. If we’re still aimed toward the top of the mountain, and that’s the mountain we want to be climbing, we can see past the thick brush we’re clawing through.
Next time you hear yourself asking “Am I happy?” think of Florin playing the Wii Fit game. You determine your own happiness. And if you are waiting for someone else to tell you if you’re happy, you’re being just as silly as a six-year-old playing video games.