Is happiness something you're waiting on? When was the last time these hopeful, longing words slipped out of your mouth: “I’ll be happy when…”?
…I make enough money?
…I have enough time?
…I find the love of my life or leave this relationship I’m in?
…I lose this weight or look a certain way?
…I can buy (insert name of that lofty item you'd like to own)?
…when covid is over and everything goes back to normal?
It’s always some form of the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side. There’s always some set condition we create in the future to determine our happiness in life.
But would it truly make you happy?
Sure, it is a good motivator to fulfill whatever particular condition you’ve set. But how long does that happiness last once you’ve achieved that milestone goal—Seconds? Minutes? Then there you go… off again… chasing after the next set of conditions to feel that dopamine hit.
Where did they come from?
You created these set conditions based on:
- Your own past experiences, either something enjoyable or the opposite of what you’ve personally experienced
- Your social/cultural conditioning is based on what others tell you what you should be/do/have to be happy
- Your observations/assumptions of others based on what they have, which “seems” to make them happy
- Your arbitrary/hypothetical scenarios you’ve created in your own head
Let’s dive into the science now
There are 4 different neurotransmitters that bring you DOSEs of happiness: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. (Good use of the acronym, right?) Each of them operates differently to bring you that deep down kid-like giddiness we all enjoy.
- DOPAMINE: Commonly associated with addiction and instant gratification. The feeling is often fleeting and motivates us to chase after the next instance of it. Obviously, this can be powerfully used productively to motivate you toward your goal or destructively to waste away your health or time.
- OXYTOCIN: Aptly named and known as the cuddle/love hormone since it creates feelings of closeness, love, security, or deep trust when we’re in contact or bond with others. It’s a big reason why we’re social animals.
- SEROTONIN: Responsible for regulating your mood. Since 90% of your serotonin is in the gut, that’s why food can make you happy or hangry. It’s also related to feelings of pride, confidence, and status. So the next time you feel a sense of accomplishment or receive recognition from others, that’s serotonin feeding you your happiness.
- ENDORPHINS: Helps you power through pain or mask any discomfort, which could result in a pleasurable high. It gives you the ability to push beyond your body’s limits and keep on going instead of giving up.
As you can see, happiness is created in your brain based on the type of emotion or state being triggered by internal or external events.
What defines your happiness
There are plenty of common reasons for what defines happiness, but the quality and quantity of happiness are still very individualized. And what are those dependent on? Ultimately, it comes down to your own personal values or what you deem important in your life.
For example, a gourmet meal at a Michelin Star restaurant brings elation to a foodie (Yay!). In contrast, someone who finds burgers at a fast food joint “good enough” doesn’t understand why people spend hundreds of dollars on a single meal. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s just a matter of preference.
Now that we have a better understanding of what creates the sense of happiness we feel. Let’s go back to the statement, “I’ll be happy when…”
Nooooo… It’s a trap!
When you say “I’ll be happy when…”, what you’re really saying is “I won’t be happy until…”
When you say that, you are postponing your happiness. You’re forcing yourself to achieve a set condition before you allow yourself to be happy.
WARNING, WARNING! Mental trap detected!
How often have you let in all this stress, anxiety, and restlessness while chasing after your goal? Once you’re there, you break a smile and finally experience that shimmering glimpse of happiness. You might even allow yourself a little break, along with a sigh of relief. Then you take a deep breath, and ready yourself for the next challenge or chase. Rinse and repeat.
But… why wait?
Happiness can be found along the journey before you get to the destination. Noticing the little things in life that can bring you happiness in small, gratifying doses. Scroll back up to the 4 neurotransmitters if you need some ideas.
Let’s apply this to dating:
- You don’t have to be a certain way before you can find love. (Wouldn’t you rather be loved for who you are?)
- You don’t have to wait to be with a partner to enjoy and live your life to the fullest. (Your life doesn’t begin once you find a partner. Find ways to love and enjoy your life now!)
- You can take yourself on fun dates and activities. (Or find friends to go with! Who knows? You might meet someone while you’re having fun.)
- You can make your home ready for your partner now. (Create a welcoming environment that you love being in and would energetically draw in your partner. When you set an intention, the Universe will find a way to fulfill it.)
Savor happiness wherever you can find it
Yes, even the tiniest ones make a difference. When you’re happier, you become more energetically magnetic to others.
Instead of attaching happiness to symbols of success, achievements, milestones, or set conditions, choose happiness as a state to be in.
You can find happiness now by choosing to look for it in your surroundings or present situation, or you can intentionally create it by doing something you know brings you joy.
Bring up a happy memory to savor. Do something that makes you smile. Indulge in a guilty pleasure that feeds your soul. Watch a comedy and laugh out loud. Hug a loved one. Choose to find the fun and joy in dating and meeting new people.
Consciously choose to create happy moments in your life. See how your life changes when you do so. Notice how that influences the people around you and the quality of the people you attract. Your surroundings are often a reflection of how you feel within.
Choose to be happy and enjoy your life now.
Psst, the featured photo is by Mikotoraw via pexels