Behavioral psychologists and cognitive scientists point out that man usually does not fully know what is best for him as well as does not fully use his resources to achieve well-being.
Man has often equated happiness with achieving a certain level of life, without which he does not consider himself happy. This is how there has been a gradual confusion between the material understanding of well-being and desire, satisfaction or aspiration. Meanwhile, happiness does not require any prelude, nor does it need to be striven for or sought, for it is always in the available. Only the moments responsible for the state of happiness change. Man's task, therefore, is to tune in to it skillfully in order to feel at least an element of it. Happiness always has its individual flavor, only the motives for well-being and its shades change. One thing never changes - happiness always chooses you, it is you who decides how much gratitude you wish to feel and receive.
Success and happiness
The road to happiness does not lead by giving away energy or oppressing oneself. Nor is it about earning or leaping several steps ahead in life. The path to fulfilment is a path of small steps, where everything is interconnected. You can't skip a few steps before you stop at each one, learning from each lesson. Often, in order to be ready for your dreams, you need to acquire not only the right qualifications, but also the skills to work on yourself. And so, respecting your own body, time, energy, recognizing your own needs as well as prioritizing your own resources is essential on the road to fulfilment.
However, people often confuse success with happiness. Scientists repeatedly refer to the concept of happiness, the so-called 'flow experience', which stands for the principle of free flow. This relaxation is nothing more than living in the face of harmonious relationships, with an adequate supply of energy, between what I give and what I receive. The most important of these harmonious relationships is the relationship with oneself. To quote the master Eckhart Tolle: 'Wealth only comes to those who feel rich'.
This harmonization is not only the space of relationships, but also the space between how much we have recognized our own resources and implement them in our own lives. This balance as an indicator of fulfilment is also the right, healthy proportionality. For example, if we work beyond the norm and treat our work as a duty, arriving at material success, does this equate to a harmonious life? It could also be that success dressed in the costume of happiness punishes us by paying a high price for every holiday, snatch of leisure time and illusion of satisfaction. Can it then be called happiness? There is no clear-cut answer here. This is not always the case, but it is worth being aware of it, as modern Westerners face disparities in this area. For some people, these scraps are enough because they have no other option for the time, or they have brought such a canon from home, while others have no better idea of change. But what if there is an alternative path that one sometimes lacks the courage to take?
Many psychologists point out that happiness, according to self-determination theory, is mainly based on internal constructs. So only the fulfilment of inner needs (not to be confused with desires!), can give us a sense of fulfilment. It is worth noting, however, that the provision of lower-order needs (security, health, material stability) is an equally important base from which we can only go higher. The problem arises, however, when this base is crossed a long time ago and we lose the boundary of what we need to have and what we desire to have.
Happiness and kindness
Buddhists distinguish an 8-step path ('Eighfold path') to happiness and compassion, which is often also called the path of nobility or enlightenment. It consists of the following points:
- Right perspective (right view) - an understanding of what factors limit my happiness; a readiness to understand more deeply the nature of things and phenomena, understanding that every perspective has its consequences and shapes our lives and those of others.
- Right concentration - increased attention to the here and now, and thus to everything that my thoughts and words create.
- Right intention - caring for myself and others, willingness to develop.
- Right speech - communicating with others with openness and kindness, avoiding lies.
- Right speech - behaviour that follows inner motivations, i.e. living in harmony with oneself supported by actions, not just intentions.
- Right livelihood - living one's life, including one's work, in an atmosphere of kindness and cooperation.
- Right effort - doing everything with commitment and a positive approach to life.
- Right mindfulness - paying attention to the now from the perspective of empathy.
The Buddha's path does not dictate what is appropriate, but rather points to certain sources of balance, anchor points conducive to personal well-being. It also indicates the 3 foundations on which the guidance is based, which are meditation, ethics and wisdom. A consistent value across all points is kindness, which is an essential component of our happiness. According to many theories of quantum physics, everything we send out into the world comes back to us. It is therefore impossible to be happy by sending out into the world what we would not wish for.
This is confirmed by the theory of psychiatrist Dr David R. Hawkins, who is the creator of a map of the development of consciousness. Each of the points he gives is assigned a specific value, such as love, sanity, but also desire, anger, or fear. Hawkins studied these reactions using a muscle kinesiology test, which indicated the strength of the impact on a particular stimulus. The research showed that negative values pull us down, stopping us at a low unit level - e.g., shame - 20, guilt - 30, apathy - 50. Interestingly, desire was also in the low-vibrational range (125 units), but desire, which the researcher attributed on a par with motivation and optimism, was already rated at 310 units.
These theories suggest that our inner well-being not only depends on how we arrange our lives, but also on how we interact with other people's lives. This symbiosis is what creates our world of flow ('flow experience'), which is a reflection of what we create ourselves. So nurturing one's own happiness is not only a personal matter, but also a certain collective good. Each of us makes our mark on the lives of others. A good motto for this approach is Osho's words: 'The only duty you have is to be happy. Make it your religion'.
Don't be afraid to strive for your own sense of happiness, or to search persistently for its shades. It lies hidden in the world of your values, rituals and relationships with other people. Try to take a closer look at the proportions that represent your priorities based on your resources, they are what feed you and drive you to live. Let sourcing this self-knowledge become a daily mantra for you to repeat with lightness and peace of mind.
Gilbert, P. 2009. The compassionater mind. London: Robindon.
Hawkins, D. R. 2020. The Map of Consciousness Explained: A Proven Energy Scale to Actualize Your Ultimate Potential. Hay House, Inc.
Hsee, C. K., & Hastie, R. 2006. Decision and experience: why don't we choose what makes us happy?. Trends in cognitive sciences, 10(1), 31-37.
Porczyńska-Ciszewska, A. 2013. orig. Cechy osobowości a doświadczanie szczęścia i poczucie sensu życia (Personality traits and the experience of happiness and a sense of meaning in life). Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.