This morning, during my typical routine of drinking tea, opening emails and listening to NPR’s 5 minute news update, I came across an article that caught my eye. Written by Berkeley professor, Tania Lombrozo (haaay), the author asks the question: Is Happiness a Universal Right?
Today is International Happiness Day – a day that the United Nations created in order to practice support for the belief that happiness is a birthright. But is it? Lombrozo provides numerous studies that challenge us to ask ourselves some important questions. Should we all have the right to happiness? To pursue happiness? She asks if the act of finding happiness is actually making us less happy. Considering my recent blog post on finding happiness, this really got me thinking.
Is the pursuit of happiness creating the illusion that we have less of it than we think? Perhaps, in chasing this feeling, we’re not able to give attention to the happiness we already have? Hmm. It begs me to ask myself, and you since you’re here: how do you define happiness?
In the article she provides a study that argues that Americans define happiness in more individualistic ways but that in cultures that define it as something tied to social wellbeing and connectedness, the pursuit of happiness indeed does make us happier.
I can’t even count how many times I have gone down a rabbit hole of angst even in the midst of doing something I’m proud of. College is a great example of this. If I do say so myself, I crushed it in college. I maintained good grades, I enjoyed my classes, I was proud of what I was accomplishing…but the second I paused to compare my success to others, I felt worse. There will always be somebody doing “better”. Work is the same way. Should I even bring up the gym? If I can honestly admit it, I sometimes felt this while traveling! Ooh that boat is sooo much more awesome. Oh wow, they got to go to that island?! I don’t even want to admit that I was thinking this while drying off from snorkeling tropical waters. Uh, hello?! Perspective, Gina!
As the saying goes, you’re happiest when you want what you already have. So, to bring it full circle, that travel happy I talked about yesterday? Yeah, you already have it. You already possess loads of experiences that you lived and that you loved. Not to say you shouldn’t continue seeking them out, (because of course you should!) but perhaps finding a way to relive that collection of moments will create a deeper gratitude for… you guessed it, the happiness you already have.
Check out the article on NPR and let me know what you think!
What questions does it make you ask yourself and how do you define happiness?