What is happiness? Many people search for it and come up empty-handed. Some think that they can find happiness in money. Others believe they can find it in fame. Companies try to convince us that we can be happy buying their products. They have slogans such as “Open happiness” (Coca-Cola®), “Makes mouths happy” (Twizzlers®), and “The snack that smiles back” (Goldfish®).
Money, fame, or products may make us happy for a moment, but they don’t give us true happiness. That is something we experience by living life purposefully and to the fullest.
Of course, once we find happiness, the last thing we want to do is let it go. So, we capture it in pictures or write it down to savor it later. Unfortunately, we spend so much time searching for and capturing those moments that we don’t enjoy them to the fullest when they occur.
I searched for a citation on this fortune but could not find who first said it. Oscar Levant, an American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor, was quoted in Time (August 28, 1972) telling the opposite. He said, “Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.”
I don’t know the context of that conversation, but I would have to disagree with him. As much as I have attempted to capture moments on my camera or find ways to express my happiness, I have learned that you must live in the moment and let the happiness happen.
Dr. Benjamin Spock said happiness is “mostly a byproduct of doing what makes us feel fulfilled.” We find happiness when we are satisfied, but that doesn’t mean we should go around satisfying our every want.
What we should be doing is living life in a rewarding way for not just ourselves but also for others. Whether it be from completing many small tasks to finishing challenging jobs, we should revel for a moment in the satisfaction of something well done. Better yet, we should share that feeling with others or let them enjoy the fruits of our labor.
In the past, Coca-Cola had a better slogan, “Share a Coke and a Smile.” When we share unique experiences with others, we can spread happiness around. When we are kind to others, it makes them happy.
On top of that, the act makes us happy, and according to research, when we are happy, we do kind things for others. Altruism leads to happiness, and happiness leads to altruism—a positive feedback loop.
Happiness isn’t a thing or a memory. It’s not something we capture. Happiness is a way to live our lives. Or, as writer Wayne Dyer said, “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.”