Happiness is an Inside Job

Written by Celine Wallace

Photo by Jacqueline Pilar

As we face the challenges of the current climate, many of us find ourselves seeking solace in external pleasures. This instant gratification comes in many forms—food, alcohol, online shopping, TV, sex, relationships, work, or any temporary fix that changes our state to one of pleasure. So, how are you finding happiness? Are you using external routes, which focus on actions and the world outside our skin? Or internal routes, which concentrate on mental means of achieving happiness?


I want to preface by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with the external pleasures listed above when used consciously. Only when they become our default means to happiness do we need to pause and reflect on our actions. If we are seeking happiness outside of ourselves, whereas genuine happiness is well-being that does not depend on anything external, the question we need to answer is: how do we find internal happiness instead?


If we are seeking happiness outside of ourselves, whereas genuine happiness is well-being that does not depend on anything external, the question we need to answer is: how do we find internal happiness instead?

The first step is to note our mental state when we reach for that stimulus. Are we stressed, anxious, sad, depressed? These are natural human emotions that need to occur within the human body to function in society, so it's important to not judge ourselves when emoting. Instead, allow your body to process these emotions without feeling the need to numb them with food, alcohol, shopping, etc. Then notice what happens when you seek these happiness modalities and you don't have access to them, and how your mood might go up or down. Note whether your habits are internal or external, healthy or destructive, and then consider where else you can go for happiness. Since external sources of joy aren't consistent or always available, what might be more constant? Without further ado, let's find sustainable happiness.


I recommend writing down a list of what brings you joy, focusing on actions that are simple pleasures and easily accessible, like going for a walk, yoga, exercise, talking to a friend, or meditation. These are great ways of feeling good and bring us a more constant state of happiness within ourselves, instead of reverting to things around us. Because, ultimately, everything around us is always changing. If we have stable routines that are always accessible to us, then we are living our lives with a happiness safety net that we can always refer to in times of chaos.


So, as we move farther into this unknown territory that is 2021, the continuation of COVID-19 and political unrest, I encourage you to make space for yourself by creating a happiness toolbox that brings you joy and is accessible anytime.


Here's to a more awakened and conscious year of internal happiness and inner peace because the happier we are as individuals, the happier we are as a community.

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