What It Really Means to Be Happy

“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life.” ~Mandy Hale

Everyone wants to be happy, but not many people contemplate whether or not they really are.

Some of us feel too privileged to not be happy, while others don’t want to face the possibility that we might not be. Here are nine truths about happiness to help you think a little more deeply about what it really means.

1. It isn’t a feeling; it’s a relationship to life.

To be human means that we experience a range of emotions. If you were to look at a grid and see a line in the shape of a wave it would be an accurate representation of the human experience.

We shouldn’t be operating as an even, straight line. That’s what I’d call a robot or someone numbed out.

Human beings experience emotions in response to life circumstances. That means sometimes you’re going to feel happy, sad, and all the other emotions in between. Embrace it.

True happiness is not a state; it’s the way we relate to our lives.

If we’re rooted in unconditional love for ourselves, the world around us transforms.

We have the ability to express gratitude for all experiences in life. We’re able to sit with difficult emotions without denying ourselves love. We’re able to be with ourselves and with the world in a way that shapes our overall perception of our lives to one of love and gratitude. This is the path to happiness.

2. It requires a willingness to know the truth.

I once felt guilty for not being happy. I felt like I had no right not to be happy. After all, I was born into a loving family, I was fed, I was loved, and I was educated. I had so much more than so many people on this planet.

And then I woke up the truth that I was, in fact, not happy, and to deny that didn’t change the truth.

I realized that my relationship to myself was the source of my unhappiness. I lived under the illusion that I loved myself by avoiding contemplating whether or not I did. I was able to see that I couldn’t actually be happy until I learned to love myself as I am.

We have to wake up to our own underlying truths. Anything you’re lying to yourself about is holding you back from true happiness.

3. You have to be willing to feel pain.  

True happiness isn’t the expression of happy chemicals floating through our brains. True happiness comes from the willingness to face ourselves. Only through some of my most painful experiences have I come to live in true happiness.

When I was willing to sit in the despair of my lost love, when I was willing to face the truth that I had become numb from feeling, and when I did the difficult work of healing I came out the other side. Sometimes I felt lighter, but always with a deeper understanding of who I am.

4. It has nothing to do with whether or not people like you.

Doesn’t it feel great when people like you? It’s like the high school experience I always dreamed of. As I got older and more comfortable with myself, I seemed to attract amazing people into my life. I loved them and they loved me.

And then someone slipped through the cracks, and I experienced someone not liking me again. It stings, right?

No one likes not being liked. But it also wasn’t my problem.

As long as you’re good with who you are deep down and as long as you’re facing yourself each day, it’s not your problem if someone else doesn’t like you. It’s their problem, because more often than not people are reflecting their relationship to themselves.

When someone doesn’t like you it doesn’t threaten your happiness. Your happiness is yours. It’s your relationship to yourself and your own life. What another person thinks about you can sting, but it doesn’t have to change how you feel about yourself.

5. It’s what most people are pretending to be.

Comparing yourself to anyone else is not only futile but also irrelevant. Your concern should be to uncover your own truth and live according to that.

When you try to be like someone else, you are trying to live according to what you think it means to be happy like them. And the unfortunate truth is that most people are pretending to be happy.

They may gloat about their successes or perceived achievements. But true happiness is a vibration that is undeniable and needs no proving.

6. You can’t look for it anywhere outside of yourself.

You will never find true happiness if you take out a flashlight and start searching. There is not one single thing outside of ourselves that will cultivate true happiness. Nothing. Not another human being whether it be a partner, parent, or child.

The only place true happiness can emerge from is through the self. We can experience moments of joy and bliss in relationship to other human beings, but true happiness is a result of your connection to your own truth.

Once you’ve awakened to that, all of your relationships will be more vibrant.

7. It’s what babies see when they look in the mirror.

I have six younger siblings. Years ago, I remember my three year old sister looking at herself in the mirror. When I asked her if she thought she was beautiful, her eyes lit up as she looked at herself, and without a doubt, without hesitation, she said yes.

Children are not yet tainted by the judgments of our world. They see that beauty is not physical, that it’s an essence. They look at themselves without judgment.

It’s the same relationship to self we now have to cultivate. We have to learn to let go of the judgments of others in order to see the truth of who we are: that we are, in fact, that same beautiful baby.

8. You can’t buy it, drink it, or recycle it.

True happiness is not a book you can read, lipstick you can wear, or act you can do. It’s almost ineffable. It’s most definitely not any of the things our culture has attempted to brainwash us into believing it is.

It’s something you have to discover for yourself. It’s something you have to be willing to work hard to uncover. A good place to start would be to let go of all of the ideas that things and ideas are what will bring you to true happiness.

9. True happiness reveals itself through love.

In our moments of great deliberation we have two choices: love or fear. Love is not often the easy choice. Love can challenge us. It can make us feel uneasy. Love can actually elicit deep pain.

Fear is the easy escape route. It’s the choice to express anger instead of vulnerability. It’s the choice to hide instead of face the pain. It’s the decision to push someone away instead of embrace them.

True happiness will always be at arm’s distance when you choose fear. Choosing love, especially when it’s difficult, is the path to accessing true happiness.

True happiness is an unwavering connection to your own truth. It’s is a connection to the soul, to the deepest part of ourselves that screams out for us to listen.

You always have the choice to align yourself with it because your soul is always communicating with you. It’s happening now as you read this. Are you listening?

About Michelle D'Avella

Michelle D’Avella is an author, Breathwork teacher and mentor. Her memoir, The Bright Side of a Broken Heart is available here. Download her FREE guide to heal your heart and follow her on Instagram for daily doses of inspiration.

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