Finding happiness

  • Unsatisfying relationship and feeling the need to look elsewhere.
  • Driven to satisfy material needs rather than emotional ones.
  • Do I have unrealistic expectations?

Happiness is what all humans desire above all else. Throughout life we seek it, but not too many can claim to have found it.

In discussions with couples who are having difficulties in their relationship, I hear: “I just don’t feel that my partner is giving me happiness. I got into this relationship because I thought he/she would bring me happiness.  This hasn’t happened, and so I think maybe I should look for someone else who will”.

I remind these couples what Agnes Repplier said: ‘It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.’ The first place to seek happiness is within us. We cannot place the responsibility for our happiness in the hands of our partner. It is not his/her job to make us happy. Happiness is of our own making.

Only when we have found happiness within ourselves, only then can we enter into a relationship and share our happiness with a partner.

 At times we may mistake instant and temporary pleasures for happiness, and instead of pursuing the real thing, spend our energies pointlessly. We may hear ourselves saying, “As soon as I get that car I will be happy … as soon as I get this house I will be happy … as soon as I get married I will be happy.” But is that really so?  Once we have the new car, the new house, or the new relationship, we may ask ourselves: “What now? I’m still unhappy!”

Material things may give comfort and pleasure, but those delights are temporary, and will never ensure long-lasting happiness.

The following are a few tools which can help us find happiness within.

Nobody I know has everything they want in life. Some may have succeeded in their financial goals but not in their family or spiritual goals, or vice versa. We choose whether to focus on the things we have which will bring us happiness or to focus on the ones we don’t have which deprive us of happiness. Human nature is such that we often take for granted the good we have. It is human nature to focus on what we don’t have, and this ends up resulting in unhappiness. To counteract this tendency, we must stand guard over our minds and direct our thoughts to focus on what we do have, and to count our blessings on a regular basis. It’s not easy, but it is possible. In the words of our sages, ‘He who is rich is he who is happy with his lot’ (Ethics of Our Fathers 4:1).