Ramadan Reflections: On Happiness
Ramadan Reflections: On Happiness
When I was very young, I thought happiness was where I reached after ticking off specific achievements or events. I remember thinking that once I have got to a certain age, I would be free; I would no longer be under the restriction of my parents and my sometimes highly complex upbringing. Little did I know that happiness is not a place to reach. For a long time, I had no sense of what happiness was or how we got it.
The internet is full of phrases that say that we create our happiness or have happiness within us. We only need to recognize it, and while all of that is platitude and accurate, it was never enough to soothe minds like mine that were constantly on the look for that “more.”
There was a quote I once heard; it is so long ago that I can’t even remember where or when, and the all-knowing Google didn’t give me many hints. But it stuck with me, and maybe it stuck with me because I felt it spoke to me directly.
Happiness is not a state or phase but a long tie of happy moments.
I found this to be true. I am happiest when I am the most grateful. Of course, significant life events are exhilarating, but the feeling of these things only lasts so long. What matters is not what looks grand and flashy but how we feel when we look at the little things in life. And if we can find it in us to pay enough attention, we will find that happy moments can be found every day, even in the darkest of hours.
I found that when I was the most devastated, I could also laugh at very unexpected moments. And yes, I thought at times I would never laugh or smile again, but I did. And these are the moments I define as the core of happiness. To find light in the darkness. My happiness is, without fail, always rooted in gratitude, and I am not always grateful.
But there are also a few things I learned in my professional life, happiness is rooted in many things, and gratitude is just one of them, and these are the areas/emotions that also make you feel happy:
Joy is fleeting and comes and goes very quickly. It is often found instantly, in a moment, and can leave as fast as it comes. The easiest way to find joy is to engage in things you know you enjoy. Joy can be music, sports, art, etc.
Though it can last longer than joy, this emotion is still somewhat fleeting—it leaves rather quickly and can turn into boredom quickly. However, it can be a motivating factor. Excitement about a new job, for example, can motivate you to work harder, and excitement about a new relationship can inspire you to put more effort into working through difficulties.
As mentioned before, the happiness that comes from gratitude can be the most lasting if we actively focus on it. But unfortunately, it is not easy to always be grateful. It takes effort and much mindfulness. But we can cultivate gratitude. Those who feel gratitude regularly tend to be happier and healthier than those prone to feelings rooted in negativity.
Pride can be harmful, especially if it leads to useless and senseless competition with others. But pride in your accomplishments can be a form of gratitude turned inward and are a great source of happy moments. We can cultivate a healthy state of pride by including personal achievements in a list of “wins.” This is not bragging if done correctly. Pride can easily lean into feelings of superiority, and it’s essential to watch out for that, but we can celebrate our wins, and we should.
Studies show that optimism is connected with better outcomes in life. Optimists tied to focus on possibilities and have a combination of gratitude and pride. They are grateful fall they have in their present, take pride in their abilities, and are therefore resourceful. They strongly believe in themselves and overcome failure easier because they can place it correctly without overthinking it too much. They learn from mistakes and make the best out of difficult situations.
Contentment means being happy with what we have. When we are content, we are less prone to disappointment. Contentment does not mean that we stop working for what we want or stop improving what we have, and it only means that the starting point is rooted in positivity.
Best and most complicated for last. Love is not happiness, but it can certainly come with many happy moments. However you look at it, love is all we are looking for. But to cultivate healthy love, we must first and foremost love ourselves.