Cause of Unhappiness Part One: Externalizing Our Happiness


December 12, 2015

Happiness is like a string which ties us to that which we believe is our happiness.

We, humans, have many things which our happiness is dependent upon whether it would be our wealth, health, or our love ones. Let’s say for example that if you tie your happiness with being rich and accepted, then as long as you are not rich and accepted you can not be happy. Similarly, if you rest your happiness on your promotion then the promotion becomes the happiness which you have put outside of yourself.

"The person who seeks all their applause from outside has their happiness in another's keeping ." - Dale Carnegie

Nowadays, the society only encourages us to put our happiness outside of ourselves. The media is telling us that for one to be happy one needs to have a new iPhone, a big house, a good job, and a beautiful spouse, a degree from Harvard and on and on. Imagine ourselves being tied to millions of these strings which we come to know as “happiness”. What we soon realise is that “happiness” starts to become a spider webs in which we are the preys. Each “happiness” is pulling us left and right to the point that it becomes impossible to obtain any happiness or freedom in life.

So What Do We Do?

How do we keep our happiness with us? Here are some interesting concepts to contemplate and chew on which will help you find True Happiness in this chaotic world.

1. Don't Let Anything Defines Your Self-Worth.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to let money defines your self-worth. And the worst thing you can do to others is to define others' self-worth through money.

Nothing can define your self-worth unless you let it. However, one way we, humans, externalize our happiness is to let something else defines our self-worth. This is very common in our materialistic society where often times we let material–like cars, money, cloth, or house–tells us our self-worth. If we let material defines our self-worth then material becomes our happiness. The more material or wealth we have the happier we becomes and inversely the less material or wealth we have the more unhappy we become. So by letting money defines ourselves our happiness becomes dependent to money.

The happiest man on earth does not rest his “happiness” on anything. And for that reason, he cannot not be happy. He does not need to be “rich” to be happy. He does not need to be “smart” to be happy. He does not need other’s compliment or affection to be happy. He is already happiness as is. There is no happiness which he has externalized.

Plus, material or outer wealth has nothing to do with ourselves self-worth from the very start. When we were young materialism does not affect our world much. We wear whatever we want. We be whoever we want to be without feeling superior or inferior to anyone.

Whatever we come to value we also judge.

When we let money defines our self-worth, we, in the same way, judge others through money. When how much money one has can define a person, there is naturally someone who is worse, or the same as the others. When such valuation of our humanity is as such. This valuation becomes the root of discrimination, prejudice, jealousy, pride and arrogant. Hence, one should be very careful about what one values and how far one takes it.

2. Good Or Bad Is A Matter Of Human's Perspective

Good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, these dualities are man-made. In God's eyes there is no such thing as good or bad. For Him, everything is just is.

Whether or not we have externalized our happiness, the value we perceive about ourselves–whether we believe we are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, successful or unsuccessful, young or old, worthy or worthless–is only a matter of how and what we compare ourselves to. If you compare yourself to someone who are less fortunate than you might be “rich.” But if you compare yourself to a billionaire then we are, in a way, “poor”. So we are both “rich” and “poor” and at the same time we are neither. Positivity or negativity is a matter of perspective. In the realm of the ultimate reality, there is no one who is better or worse. We are just who we are–incomparably different from one another.

3. Question Your Happiness

A happy life must always be simple no matter how complicate our lives have become.

Most people rarely question their own happiness. But in order to maintain a happy life, it is necessary to regularly check up on what we called “happiness.”

As a practice, I suggest you to regularly review your life. I personally have a habit of writing a journal every night before going to bed to see what is bothering my mind. List them all out, question this list of what you called “happiness” then sort only ones that matter most to you while eliminating others which are not. You will easily find many things which you desire yet they are unnecessary towards life and are, in some ways, even weighting you down from achieving what really matters. Is it all that important to be “successful” in eyes of the others? Is being rich the answer to life? Is it worth it to trade your inner happiness for an outer one? Is my family comes first before my work? Slowly find out what matters to you most. Cut out any unnecessary wants. Eventually your life will feel lighter as you let go of those extraneous ties of “happiness.”

Knowing where your happiness truly belongs is a skill one which can be improved by learning to quickly identify where you have misplaced your happiness. This is what mindfulness is for. (Click here to learn more about the practice of True Happiness.) And once you can see that these ties of “happiness” have been causing you more pain than happiness then perhaps it is time to let go. As a rule of thumb, the less ties of “happiness” we have the easier for us to find happiness in life.

What To Take Away

Happiness is a delicate science. It is intriguing how sometimes even the things in which we believe will bring us “happiness” can end up causing us more unhappiness than happiness. Who would have thought that the way to be happy is less about pursuing it than questioning it? Happiness should never be ahead of us. It should be with us even though we are pursuing something ahead of us. Happiness is like a fire. And it is advisable that one be very careful with what you believe to be “happiness”. Question it. Simplify it. Deconstruction it. And what you will find is that there is nothing you need more to make you happy since our heart is by nature already happy.

Posted with : Dealing With Unhappiness