Is Happiness Really Attainable Or Is It Just An Illusion?

God & Man

I was talking to my mom in the car the other night about how excited I am to move to Denver in a month to be around creative minds. I brought up how it’s going to be so nice to bounce ideas off of other people and actually be able to talk things through with people who get the kind of work I’m doing.

My mom, trying to be helpful and give me ideas, chimed in with, “why don’t you write something happy for once instead of writing all the heartbreak, sad, life sucks pieces you normally do?” I just stared at her for a second before responding that no one cares about the happy stuff because no one is really that happy.

This actually reminded me of a tweet I saw Ari, one of my co-workers, post the other day.

I stared out the window after that comment and started thinking about happiness. I started wondering if happiness is really attainable or are we all just chasing an illusion we’ve been made to believe is really out there?

Because that’s what everyone wants, right? Everyone wants to be happy but no one really knows how to be happy. We have list after list, article after article written about how to achieve happiness. Yet, whenever we ask people what they want in life they usually reply “happy” like it’s a part of their life they haven’t yet achieved.

Happiness isn’t something that you experience long-term, it’s something you have to work at and continue working at your whole life. It fluctuates between emotions, feelings, circumstances and situations. Happiness is completely inconsistent and our mood can change from being on top of the world to being completely underneath it in a matter of seconds.

The concept of happiness is misleading in the way that we think if we just cross a few things off on the self-care list we found on Google that we could truly switch our life around and discover happiness, but that’s simply not true. It might help, but it won’t bring you the happiness you’re envisioning.

Feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, insecurities, self-doubt and being inadequate don’t just go away. They’re still there, even on your happy days – your mind can just do a better job of disguises them.

I’ve felt insane levels of happiness before but as fast as that emotion came, it was gone.

I truly believe happiness is a temporary high; it’s something that momentarily covers up the pain you’re feeling because no one is really always happy. It’s not normal to always be happy, yet somehow the goal is to always be happy. The goal is to stop feelings the pain, the loneliness, the insecurities and just be happy without any of those worries that you’re not good enough, and it’s exhausting.

We’ve made such a dream out of being happy that we’ve almost made it impossible to achieve. We set goals or milestones to achieve and we are convinced that once we achieve them we will be happy, and we are but only momentarily. Then the feeling of accomplishment fades and the happiness goes along with it, and we’re left back with the same emptiness we felt before.

We’re all convinced once we become more successful we will be happy. Once we become rich we will be happy. Once we have a family of our own we will be happy. Once we have X we will be happy but the problem is we’re still not happy, not really anyways. We can achieve everything on our list but once the newness or the ‘wow’ factor wears off so does the happiness.

Happiness is the anticipation leading up to the big event but it isn’t necessarily the big event because that’s when expectations come into play and once there are expectations set there is usually disappointments that follow.

Happiness is determined by internal factors but we put all of our hope into external factors to achieve it.

Realistically though, we are not solely responsible for our happiness and we never will be. It is almost impossible to not care what other’s think, it is almost impossible not to let outside factors affect you because after all, we’re all only human. We can try to ignore things and not let them get to us but that doesn’t mean we’re always capable of achieving that goal.

We could be feeling happy until someone does or says something that immediately strips us of all the joy we were feeling.

But everyone pretends to be happy – we post pictures of the good stuff, we talk about the good stuff, we cling to the good stuff because the bad stuff makes people uncomfortable. And the good stuff takes away the pain for a little while.

We’re all addicted to something that masks the pain and numbs the wounds. Everyone has a vice.

Being satisfied with life doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found happiness, which leads me back to the idea that happiness is just an illusion we’ve convinced ourselves exists and is attainable.

I don’t know if long term happiness is real but I know it’s the one goal we’re all trying to achieve, and maybe a lucky few have got there. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog