Does happiness depend on things?

The common idea we all seem to have is that “something” or “someone” outside of us can make us happy. So, when we feel we need some more happiness or when we feel depressed perhaps, we typically look for something to make us feel happy again.

But is that how happiness truly works? Could it be we are making an essential error here?

The consumerism based world order cries out to us that we need to get more things or work more on our ego, in order to be or stay happy. We are bombarded with this idea so frequently that most of us actually believe it. One could even call it a belief-system, but what if that belief is completely wrong?

Isn’t it true that happiness does not depend on external objects or even other people, but rather, it depends on YOU or put differently, your “state of being”? Happiness is not a thing, but a state you’re in. When you are happy you experience the world as happiness. In that state even the smallest event like a raindrop of water falling on your nose from a tree, is a delight! You don’t need to buy a new house, a new car or win the lottery in order to be happy. Intuitively we all deep down know that external objects don’t actually make us happy. Perhaps they do facilitate our lives, make things easier, but surely lasting happiness does not depend on them. If we believe that it does, we have found the recipe for un-happiness, for suffering even.

So how to “get” happiness then? We suggest that it begins by dropping your belief that happiness depends on external objects and by becoming more aware of your state of being. This would be an excellent starting point for inner growth!

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  1. I wrote this to my brother yesterday who is unhappy and very much into making money and having expensive things. “I’ve realized the nature of true happiness. Happiness doesn’t come from anything. Nothing truly makes anyone happy. Happiness is a natural state of well being in the mind when nothing blocks it. Usually what blocks it is placing importance on things that we think will make us happy. Our beliefs in importance of certain things causes unhappiness. With the exception of loved ones, nothing should be more important than happiness and it only arises when it isn’t dependent on anything outside of ourself or even with ourself. Nothing can make us happy except giving up the importance of things that block happiness. So many people are looking for happiness in money, possessions, achievements, status, recreation, love, etc. and nothing outside of ourselves can bring true genuine happiness. Any happiness from those things will be temporary and eventually will lead to blocking happiness if they are believed to be needed for happiness. Happiness comes naturally when it is allowed to.”

  2. Happiness comes from emotionally-fulfilling experiences, which leads to contentment and peace with what one presently has.
    Those experiences may include “things”, but they aren’t as important than the whole experience. If one is used to starving, a nourishing, healthy meal can bring us happiness. Mutual happiness can be found in genuine love between two beings.

  3. This is all correct. Happiness is a state of being. It can be flickered on and off like a light switch. People need to realize this because the way life works is that “a happy mind creates a happy life” (not the other way around). Happiness is NOT dependent on external factors but external factors help. In particular, society can boost happiness across the planet if it creates an environment where people can experience 3 things:
    – Self-perpetuation
    – Self-maintenance
    – Balanced self-gratification.
    What is happening on the inside determines what is happening on the outside. If someone suddenly decides to remain happy most of the time then, over a couple of months, life will reconstruct itself to match the happiness within and mirror it without. This way, people have complete control over their lives. If someone decides to be pessimistic, then the world will become a pessimistic environment to match what’s happening on their inside.
    Happiness is our function but there are so many errors people make that really screw up happiness. Listening to the ego is one of the worst things but there are other things too. (Ie Fear, Guilt, anxiety, ect..)

  4. We live in scientific particle and space paradigm. It is assumed that space (nothing) somehow exists; and floating about in all this nothing are some dumb, fundamental particles that somehow get it together using lots of forces of attraction and repulsion to build things: atomic nuclei, atoms, molecules, rocks, planets, stars, galaxies, plants, animals and people. In this sort of set-up there is no guide to how we should behave, in fact there is no explanation for consciousness. So in a Universe of things, we are led to believe the more things we have the better off we are. In crude terms we think we have a bigger slice of the universe. Of course…this is great…’til we die. Then we all know ‘He who dies with the most toys…still dies’. Quite a Pyrrhic victory.
    There are however other paradigms. Most are religious paradigms, and these are from where most of us get our comfort from the depressingly dead, particles and space paradigm. Many of us live our lives believing in two paradigms. The science one gives us our Earthly, material-well-being and the religious one gives us a code of conduct and hope of an afterlife.
    Some people, very few in terms of the world’s human population, think that there should be just one paradigm to explain everything. Not just how the universe appears the way it does, but where our awareness and consciousness come from. One of the foremost thinkers along these lines was Alfred North Whitehead. He proposed that the Universe consists essentially of processes rather than objects (things). Whiteheads ideas are very influential and they tie in with modern ideas of emergence (more complex systems emerging from simple systems).
    So to finally get to ‘Does happiness depend on things?’ My answer is ‘No’ because there seems to be good chance that there are no actual things to make us happy. There are however process-relationships: things such as empathy, co-operation, love and understanding. Now these we do know make us happy.


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