The art of happiness
I compare the art of happiness with playing a team sport. The first is that we play the game together; we have a goalpost or a target to aim for in order to win, but we can’t win unless the team performs optimally together in collaboration and coordination that sustains and supports each other’s strengths and limitations. As a result, whether we win, draw, or lose, the happiness of a team member invariably depends upon others.
In a team, each team member has their own unique specialties, responsibilities, and competencies, and some team members are also better than others. It also depends on how team members decide to play with each other. Some members are more supportive than others, and some others are way too self-centered. And, as individuals, we all want to win, but our team also needs to win; our team may win or lose, and we may receive individual glory, recognition, or admiration for our efforts; or, depending on the game, we may lose, leaving us with regret or guilt. Besides, even with the best of efforts, sometimes we end up losing, as if luck were only for the other side. A loss may also inspire us to victory in another game, so much depends on how we take it.
Less happiness now also prepares us for more happiness later.
Happiness is a matter of relationships, how you relate to yourself and to others, and also how others want to relate to you. Therefore, our happiness is also related to the sense of interconnection, joy of togetherness, comfort, and friendship we experience in the presence of other people. There is no happiness in isolation. But there are differences in feelings and emotions associated with winning, drawing, and losing depending on individual attitude and perception.
Similarly, we must recognize that we cannot be happy within ourselves when we are surrounded by misery, problems, and sadness. Like in any team sport, the standard of the turf or playing conditions and the performance level of our team members also impact our happiness. Playing a game in a difficult situation with an unbalanced team is certainly a difficult task.
We cannot, however, completely entrust our happiness to others. It is not their responsibility to make us happy; they are not the instruments of our happiness. As a result, even if your team disappoints you and leaves you frustrated, you must gather yourself and be satisfied with the fact that you tried your hardest, that you were sincere in your effort, and that, as with so many other aspects of our lives, nothing is in our hands. Hence, don’t post your happiness goals on others’ walls; they might cover them with something else. And even if they do, learn to enjoy their colors also.
Happiness in relationships implies mutual acceptance of each other’s individual freedom, togetherness, accommodation, and support, rather than projection, imposition, and expectation of our own interests on others.
What matters most is whether you are enjoying the game regardless of the outcome- winning, losing, a draw, the number of goals scored by your team or against your team- because happiness is found in what is happening, not in some destination, goal, possession, or achievement. There is happiness in playing and being a player, as well as in the outcome of the game.
Even when we can’t play, we can still enjoy the game by watching other people play it happily. We must also allow the happiness of others to shine on us. For those of us unable to play the game, we can also be happy by embracing our role as an observer or audience. Besides, even for the players, a game without commentators and audience members would be a little more boring and less inspiring.
Happiness happens in a flow; you can’t store it inside your refrigerator like ice cream. Happiness burns, boils, excites us, and then evaporates and fades. Happiness also returns in different shapes, expressions, and sizes.
Indeed, when the game is happening, there’s happiness in that moment of play, where there is hope, determination, interconnection, togetherness, mutual commitment, and observation. But after a while, something else will happen. But don’t cling to your happiness because the same happiness that happened in that moment might not happen again.
Don’t let the happiness you have already achieved reframe the happiness that is waiting for you. Happiness is a verb; it is happening and will continue to happen; don’t attach it to something fixed. The ultimate art of happiness is that we can find different reasons to be and become happy, even when we are not seeking it.
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