Who doesn’t want to be happy? Since we are little, we are taught that the purpose of life is to be happy. But if that’s the case, why it’s so hard to actually be it? Perhaps, it’s because we got happiness all wrong…

Hello you all, this is Juan Cruz from Inerize and in this article we’ll dive deep into why it’s so hard to be happy?

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Happiness and Evolution

Life is hard, especially in nature. There are dangerous predators lurking around that could kill you in an instant, natural disasters can destroy everything you know and love, and deadly diseases are very common.

Through millions of years, evolution took care of designing living species that could adapt to the dangerous environment and survive for as long as possible to reproduce and continue the race. Tigers are strong, birds can fly, snakes produce venom to defend themselves, and gazellas run fast (or at least faster than lions.)

Each and every living being is a magnificent result of evolution doing its job, but there’s one invention that stands out from all of them: the human mind.

Our minds are a powerful survival tool. They help us plan ahead, prepare ourselves before anything bad happens, invent things that never existed before and project ourselves into the future.

But even though this newly acquired ability differentiated us from every other living being in the planet and is responsible for every invention and discovery we ever made it’s also the reason why it’s so hard for us to be happy.

The Role of Our Mind

The mind is a survival mechanism and it’s built for the sole purpose of helping us persist. It’s designed to be in the constant lookout for dangers and ways in which it can promote our survival. In the past it helped us look for food, avoid dangerous predators and prepare for bad weather, and now it’s helping us succeed in the professional world, look for a nice partner, and make money so we can live in a big, luxurious house.

Even though the context changed dramatically for human beings, our minds’ main goal is still the same: to survive. But wait, haven’t we said in the beginning of the video that our purpose was to be happy? Well, not really.

Surviving vs Being Happy

If we think about it deep enough and ask what happiness is really, we will realize that for us happiness is getting what we want and avoiding the things that make us suffer, but that sounds an awful lot to surviving, just as animals and our ancestors did.

Each time we get something we desired, whether that’s a raise, a A+ in a test or a marriage proposal, we experience and emotional rush that we associate with the feelings of happiness. But this rush is always short-lived and tends to disappear rather quickly, but why?

Soon after we accomplished what wanted, our mind will be looking for the next thing to pursue because, as we’ve seen, it’s a survival machine. After a while, we forget about our achieved goals and create new ones to keep us moving and persisting, all because we believe that the next one for sure will make us finally happy.

Just like the mouse on a wheel trying to reach that delicious cheese, we keep striving to put our hands-on happiness, but no matter how fast we run it’s never enough. Everything we do will bring, at best, a few hours of excitement but it’s never the long-lasting happiness we are searching for.

In other words, for the sake of our mind tricks us to keep striving for new goals and objectives with the promise of happiness, but that never comes true. Because, if the mouse managed to grab the cheese, he would stop running and the mind is very scared about that possibility. But how could that even happen?

Happiness Revisited

Getting what we want and avoiding what we don’t want is not happiness, is simply survival at work and the mind doing its job, so what’s happiness then? We say we want happiness, but we don’t even know what it is.

Happiness is simply being happy with whatever happens. It’s a state of contentment and acceptance, whether or not life goes our way or not. We don’t have to wait until we get what we want to feel that way. We can be happy even when we are suffering, when we are sad, and when we don’t get what we want. In happiness, there’s no desire because everything is as it should be in the present moment. There’s no goal to attain and no thing to buy that will make our experience better.

We don’t need to get what we want to be happy; we just need to be happy. It’s that simple. Being happy is not winning, or surviving, or being successful, being happy is being happy.

Culturally, we confused the feeling of winning that comes when we effectively survive with happiness and designed a narrative – and even a society – around this misunderstanding. No wonder why it’s so hard for us to be it. We got happiness completely backwards and confused it with feelings that are not it.

Trying Being Happy Without Conditions

So, in this moment, I want to invite you to try for yourself just being happy, no matter what happens. Try being happy when you fail your exams, when you are bored at work, when you feel sick, and when things don’t go as you expected.

With time, you’ll realize that you didn’t need all of your dreams accomplished and life going your way to be happy. You just needed to understand what happiness really is and make and conscious effort to be it. And by doing so, you go against the mind’s natural state of striving for survival, and that’s extremely liberating.

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