Happiness is the ultimate purpose of life; it is what everybody is searching for all through their lives. There are times we feel blessed by it, there are times when it seems to be a distant dream. Some look for it in material success, some in spirituality, some in a relationship and some in fulfilling an ambition or desire. Despite the fact that it may mean quite different things to different people and its source may change accordingly, there seem to be certain universal factors which lead to happiness. Both certain life style factors and various personal factors contribute to happiness in life.
It can’t be denied that certain life style factors contribute to happiness in life. Most important of all, having a decent quality of life is crucial for fulfillment with one’s life. This means having a certain standard of living in the material and physical sense, being able to satisfy your basic needs like a decent place to live, having basic comforts, not worrying if you will be able to put food on the table for your family for the next meal, knowing you will be looked after properly if you end up in an hospital, being confident that your children can go to school, etc. Another equality important aspect of this is more abstract and it includes having opportunities for self-improvement, self-expression through interpersonal relationships, through art, having free time to one’s hobbies, interests, loved-ones and friends. For most people having a good job and an important professional position is the way to achieve all that has been mentioned because they provide you with the means to attain a good standard of living and be respected and valued in the workplace. However, it is important to note that work is only one, though a very big part of our life and one should also invest in other areas for real fulfillment.
It is also true that certain personal factors contribute to happiness. Health is a very important one. Being in good health helps the person to enjoy life, if you are in pain all the time and weak, it is very difficult to get out of your situation and see the beauties around you. However, that does not mean that there aren’t people who can achieve happiness despite their illnesses. There are people who can fight even the worst forms of cancer or big tragedies in life thanks to their positive attitude. They choose to focus on the positive and not get stuck in their misfortune; they manage to turn things around. Their positive inner-life transforms the negativities in their outer life. This is why the same tragedy may kill out all joy of life in one person while strengthen another person’s philosophy and inner resources. Having a good sense of humor also contributes to happiness: being able to laugh at even the difficult and unpleasant experiences fills us with the energy we need to fight them. Happiness can be achieved with the right approach; by focusing on the positive rather than the negative and also helping humour to lighten up the situation even if your health is not in a good state.
As all valuable things in life, happiness is a constant search and requires constant effort. One needs to work on two levels-inner and outer- for real and long lasting happiness in life. Life style factors involve a collective effort to achieve, they cannot be attained in an unjust social and economic system, they cannot be attained on an individual level sustainably. The inner work, on the other hand, is personal and requires one to work on their philosophy of life. Perhaps, happiness is hidden in this search and in this effort more than its outcome.
Ebru M. (The same long suffering teacher at 2 in the morning)