What is happiness? How can we reach it?
Happiness is something most people chase during their whole life. We define happiness distinctly. Some believe happiness comes from within, while others say happiness is the summation of all factors in our life getting together in perfect form. No matter which you choose, one thing is sure: we all hope and wish for it.
But what makes us happy? What exactly makes us happy?
Of course, this is different for everyone. What makes someone feel content may make another person feel empty inside. Though everybody must find their own unique meaning of their own happiness, the true sense of contentment is that no one can take it from us.
I personally believe happiness can be found in small moments. Many think happiness is not a state of life when achieving something such as gaining a good job, finding our right partner, going on a holiday, etc. However, happiness is a state of mind when we find joy in the small moments.
To realise these moments of joy is to slow down and be present for them. I am sure that young children are great masters of it. So, our children teach us happiness.
Why can we learn about happiness from children?
If we want to understand true happiness, we need only to detect young children. They don’t chase happiness; they simply embody it. They can find joy in the most common feature of nature.
When we go to the playground with Mira after her preschool, we must go through a vast park to get there. She doesn’t want to rush through the park; she enjoys nature’s beauty. When she notices a beautiful pineal under the trees, we need to turn back to pick it up, gaze at it and take it home to give it to daddy.
Or she constantly feeds the magpies offering her pancakes to them. She can be so thrilled when a group of magpies surrounds us, impatiently waiting for her delicious pancakes. She immerses herself in the investigation of these little birds’ behaviour.
She is fascinated by dirt, wallows, or a squirrel hurryingly climbing on an old tree. They can keep her busy for a long time.
She taught me to slow down. Before her birth, I didn’t spend so much time in nature. I just rushed through the parks, submerging in my thoughts and thinking about what to do. But she taught me to stop for a while and notice the beauty of nature.
Little kids can enjoy the state of delight almost immediately. If they get caught in the rain, they are captivated by the sensation of soaking. They accept life without feeling sorry when things don’t happen according to ‘the plan.’
Between their birth and the age of four or five, little children can catch the experience of pure heaven. Most people are not capable of encountering happiness in this way after this age. That’s why we can say that our young children are our most outstanding teachers. They can lead us back to what we lost.
We, adults, are influenced by mainstream culture and often tend to look for happiness outside ourselves. In contrast with little children, we wait to be happy until we have the right job, get slim and pretty, or have friends in the ‘right’ social circle. They don’t look for happiness outside themselves; they fully experience their life as it is. They laugh, cry, sing, and dance when the desire arouses them. My Mira often starts dancing in the park, imitating my chasses from my Aviva method exercises, shouting: “Look at mummy, I am doing chasses as you do when you do your exercises!”
Adults always feel they have to do something and put many things on their to-do lists, but children enjoy being in the present. That’s why they are free, bold, and adventuresome.
Things that we can learn from our children
- They live in the moment: They don’t live in the past and don’t worry about the future. We also need to learn to live in the present. We can’t change the events of the past and can’t know what happens in one week, two days, or even in one hour. The only thing which exists is the present. When kids wake up, they don’t stress themselves out about their to-do list; they naturally live in the moment.
- They love making stuff. They love to draw, playdough, paint, glue, cut, and stick. I also did these things when I was a child, but in adulthood, I deleted these activities from my life. Doing these activities with my child again, I discover how important they are; they really help develop the creativity we can use when we solve our problems in our “adult” life. And they help us relax. When we concentrate on these activities, we really live in their presence.
- They believe.
Little children believe in Santa Claus, witches, and fairies. Their belief is so strong, and they have got very rich imagination. Adult people often lose confidence in themselves, people, and the world around them. But our potential is unlimited; we must defeat our limiting beliefs to make our dreams come true.
- They have got an afternoon nap. Most little kids nap and wake up in their new form. We, adults, should have a little rest after lunch too. When a little child is grumpy or grouchy in the morning, we can see that an afternoon nap can work wonders with them, and they can wake up as a new and better version of themselves. Rest would be excellent for our nervous system as well.
- They immerse.
If they do an activity, they can immerse themselves in the activity. Children often become so deeply engaged in what they are doing that they don’t hear you when you call them. We can call it “flow,” which leads to happiness.
- They say what they want. They say what they mean and don’t hesitate. They don’t feel any stress in their chest because of something they don’t dare to say. They say they need to in the first place. If adults did that, they would feel less anxiety.
- They get excited. They could be so excited, and because they don’t understand the “future,” we need to be cautious when mentioning their birthday is coming up, Santa Clause is arriving, or we are going on a trip because they could be so excited about them and want these things immediately. When was the last time you felt excited? We should put some things on our calendar that make us dizzy with childlike excitement.
- They sing and dance. They can sing and dance like nobody’s watching them. They delight in movement anytime and anywhere. We don’t have to wait for a dance club or ballroom lesson; we can let the music play and dance and sing in our kitchen or any room to make ourselves happy and energised.
- They are spontaneous. Little children can change their mood very quickly, going from a vast tantrum to a happy mood in seconds. We might not want to imitate them in this, but we can also enjoy unplanned fun and seek more moments of joy each day.
- They always want to be seen and heard. Kids always need our attention. Find your voice. We should also surround ourselves with people who value us and what we have to say.
- They love going outdoors. Go for a walk or, if you have a little child, to the playground with them. Seeking out nature and smelling fresh air recharge and awaken our spirit. Little kids enjoy being dirty and running around outside nonstop.
- They are curious about the world. Children have got a natural wonder and interest in the world. Be a sponge and love to learn as kids do. Look at every new person you meet as someone you could learn something from. Seek out new experiences and opportunities to consume knowledge.
- They are authentic. Adults often spend their whole lives being who they are. Little kids know who they are. Find your way back to whom you know yourself to be.