When we learn that different types of happiness exist, we can play with our daily life to maximize our experience of joy.
Embracing the many faces of happiness gives us the ability to tap into our creative powers to experience a life abundantly filled with genuine smiles.
To do this, we need to understand the variety of ways happiness can be experienced, the downfalls of relying on just one, and the great potential we unlock by weaving them together to enrich our days.
Happiness adds a touch of special to ordinary days and simple experiences. It makes memories of moments. It provides depth to all we do when it’s authentic, and that authenticity is found in understanding how it can show up in different ways so we can broaden our experience.
Let me tell you about a recent happy experience so we can take a look at the different forms of happiness together.
It was a cold end of winter, early spring morning at the cottage. The day promised to hit double digits for one of the first times this season, but for now, it was well below zero. After a sip of coffee, my husband and I bundled up and decided to go for a sunrise skate on the lake.
With many layers of clothes and snow pants on, we plopped down on the ice and put our skates on. The slightly warmer days had melted the top layer of ice, which refroze overnight as smooth as glass in some areas, bumpy in others.
He’s a pro at skating—I’m getting better every year. We set off for a skate, each at our own pace. He joyfully skated ahead, loving the seemingly endless ice we could explore without snow.
I marveled at the smoothness of the ice, stumbled at the bumps, and thought about how grateful I was that we could get in this last skate before the warm days inevitably made the ice unsafe. I took in the beauty of the nature around me, feeling that deep heart connection with myself and all of life. Happiness bubbled up within and existed all around me.
Let’s look at three ways we can experience happiness:
1. Happiness from the external:
The beautiful ice offered me a source of happiness. Happiness can be found in external things.
However, external sources of happiness are often temporary and fleeting. That beautiful ice would melt that same day, and sections of the ice were bumpy and difficult to skate on. So, if I was to only rely on the external for my happiness source, I could curse that not all the ice was the happy ice, and I could grieve and feel at a loss when the ice was gone.
The lesson here for me was that external things, experiences, materials, and even accomplishments may bring happiness for a moment but that we can’t rely on it as our only happiness source.
However, just because it’s fleeting doesn’t mean its happiness should be denied; instead, we can gain a great source of joy by allowing ourselves to make the most of the external happiness when it is there, and we can open ourselves to the other types of happiness too so that we can find more sustainable joy.
2. Happiness from another person:
Watching my husband skate and embrace the morning filled my heart with so much happiness.
His mood was a boost to my own. We can embrace the beauty of interacting with other people as a source of happiness in our lives and rejoice when those opportunities arise. However, when we rely on other people for happiness, we put too much responsibility on their shoulders, and we leave our happiness up to their experience of life.
If my husband had been in a bad mood and I relied on him solely for my joyful skate, would I give up my happiness? Or, if I demanded for my happiness that we skate side by side the whole time, would I ask him to give up a portion of his?
While I can embrace the happiness that he and others bring into my life while it’s there, relying on others to sustain my only happiness can threaten moments that have the makings of joy in them and deprive one or both parties.
3. Happiness from my inner world:
One of the key ways we can experience happiness is by creating it within.
We can generate our own happy experience by choosing how to think, by allowing our hearts to smile at being alive, and by becoming our own generators of good. While the skate was lovely, and the company was great, there was a deeper layer of happiness there. There was happiness at spending time with myself, happiness just because I get to exist, a happiness that’s a choice from the inside.
When we bring this source of happiness into our lives, we discover a sustainable source of well-being. We can tap into our creative power, our ability to choose how we perceive the world around us, and decide to take good from our experience.
We can find this happiness in an appreciation of life, in gratitude for all, in supportive self-talk, a compassionate mindset, and more. It is an internally renewable source.
Connecting the three of them: an interplay between internal and external happiness.
I believe we learn to make the most of life and experience when we use all of these forms of happiness to the maximum.
We can let happiness come up from inside ourselves to make the external world more joyful, and likewise, we can use the external experience of life to help us practice creating and sustaining internal happiness.
When we have both sources, we can look to the outside world for support when we have a difficult inner moment, and we can create inner happiness so that we don’t have to rely on outside experience to feel good. The missing piece for many is that internal component.
We can challenge ourselves to engage and connect all the sources of happiness. We can enjoy the feedback loop that the interplay of external and internal happiness brings, allowing us to thrive, be more resilient, and find deeper, playful well-being in our life.