An Inside Job? Finding Happiness Internally Instead of Externally? What Does that even mean?
Should I start with… What does being happy, really mean?
Does it mean achieving your financial goals? Getting that new car? Buying those shoes, you’ve been eyeing all month? Is true happiness tied to accomplishing and acquiring things?
If that was the case, then billionaires would be the happiest people on earth, simply because they would have everything and have accomplished anything and everything they wanted. But we all know that being wealthy isn’t necessarily the key to happiness. I’m sure you can think of a few wealthy people, business owners, or politicians that are well off, but that are far less happy than you are.
So, why do we keep looking for happiness everywhere but inside ourselves?
The Difference Between Internal and External Happiness
At some point in our existence, we humans decided that having more stuff is better. From that moment onward, our entire lives have been dedicated to chasing things we want and protecting things we have. Getting and keeping these things gives us a temporary feeling of satisfaction, even happiness. But it also brings fear of theft of the things that bring us happiness and a willingness to protect this stuff with our lives and even with guns, alarms, cameras, and the like. So do these items bring joy… or stress?
Unfortunately, that happiness from our stuff, never lasts. The moment we achieve something, we set our eyes on something else. Something that we feel would make us even happier. It is only as we lie on our deathbeds that we realize, “I didn’t need that promotion,” or “That car didn’t truly make me happy.”
That’s the Nature of External Happiness: It Is Fleeting.
Internal happiness, on the other hand, lasts a lifetime. It isn’t based on physical acquisitions or achievements. Internal happiness doesn’t come from binge-shopping or ladder-climbing. It comes primarily from three virtues:
You can never be truly happy if you don’t appreciate what you already have. In this fast-paced world, being content is not considered to be a desirable attribute. We’re always being encouraged to reach for the stars. No one will tell you to be satisfied with what you have. Well, next to no one. I’m telling you to give it a try.
Therein lies the biggest obstacle to achieving internal happiness. Happiness that comes from within stems from a place of peace and contentment. It comes from the acceptance of who you are, where you are, and what you have.
Contentment teaches you to stop chasing and start accepting yourself as you are. It goes hand in hand with gratitude—an unrelenting appreciation for everything you have.
You can never be truly happy if you keep desiring things rather than appreciating what’s already within your grasp. There are endless things to want in this world; you will never have them all. True happiness stems from looking around you and saying, “You know what, this is pretty great, and I am truly thankful to have it all.”
Lastly, internal happiness is achievable only to those who are kind to themselves and others. It may sound cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You will never be happy if you’re filled with hate, envy, or resentment. Sadly, these traits are so common in society today.
Like charity, kindness begins at home, in your heart, and in your soul. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Kindness fosters genuine feelings that last a lifetime.
Like a muscle, kindness is a virtue (well, actually, all three are virtues) that grows the more you use it (them).
So, when looking for internal happiness, ask yourself these questions:
“Am I contented with what I have?”
“Am I grateful for what I have?”
“Am I kind to myself and others?”
Whoever you are, these are some of the main virtues that truly matter when it comes to creating internal happiness. Beyond this we always recommend using mindfulness and meditation to be present in the moment and really work these muscles.
Want to try adding mindfulness and meditation to your self-care routine? Click below to get details about this free mindfulness and meditation intro course.