“Am I happy?”
It’s a question that I don’t think we ask nearly enough. Notice that it’s not the same question as “Am I having fun?”—I think we ask ourselves that question all the time.
We go out drinking or take a lot of trips, or do all sorts of fun activities to keep us busy and having fun. Generally, there is nothing objectively wrong about doing any of these things. But thinking that they are what will make us happy can often lead to feelings of emptiness and confusion. The truth is that fun is not the same thing as happiness.
Now, that’s not to say that being happy can’t be fun—it certainly can, and often is. But it’s more than that. The question we asks ourselves should not be “Am I having fun?” but “Am I happy?” So how can you tell if you are happy?
1. Happiness is good. Someone who has something that is truly good will always want to share it with others.
If what you have is just “fun”, you may want more people around, but you’re not making it a purpose or goal to share your fun with other people. And often times what we do for “fun” is exclusive to a small group of people—we don’t really want anyone else to be a part of it for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a clique-y thing or maybe it’s something that is shameful that we don’t want other people to know about. The bottom line is that something that yields true happiness, you can’t help but want to share with everyone you meet.
2. Happiness is lasting, even when things aren’t “fun”.
Life isn’t all excitement all the time. Sometimes things are boring; and sometimes you have to do long, grueling work that you’d rather delegate to someone else. But a lack of excitement and a lack of fun does not have to mean unhappiness. If you are leading a life that you are truly happy with, you are going to be happy even in those less-than-exciting times.
To clarify: I’m not saying that boring times are good because they make you thankful for the fun times, and if you realize that, then you are happy. I’m saying that happy people find joy and peace even in the boring times. They know that their life has meaning beyond what they are feeling in the moment.
So what do you think? Are you happy?