Is it True that Greater Happiness Can be Found in the Inner World?
The problem with satisfaction and 'happiness' in the outer sphere of activity is that it is conditional. When the conditions change, dissatisfaction enters.
Greater happiness can be found only in the inner world. Everything that we can find in the outer world can bring satisfaction, pride, joy but all these may turn stale and seem transitory. Thus we can observe two important things about life.
- There are people who have much in the outer world yet are not happy.
- There are people who need very little on the outside to find happiness in the inner world.
Trying to satisfy the hunger within by getting more and more is an endless process. The thirst is never quenched.
So, how does one achieve tranquility, gratefulness and true contentment while being truly what we are, without deadening our senses and desensitising our feelings. Yes, it is possible.
Achieving this is the art of living - so simple essentially yet so difficult. It is a matter of spirit.
PERMA = Positive Psychology Approach to Happiness
Martin Seligman, the famous American psychologist (his concept of learned helplessness is very much utilised by scientific and clinical psychologists) has suggested 5 items that seem to bring happiness more often than not:
- Pleasure (sensory pleasure e.g. warm baths and tasty foods)
- Engagement (the mysterious state called flow when we are absorbed yet challenged in doing something)
- Relationships (human relationships are a good indicator of life satisfaction)
- Meaning (belonging to something larger than self or a quest)
- Accomplishments (realising tangible goals)
Here, the yardstick is not how much money you have, or the size of your car or the value of your house or how impressive the job title sounds.
The five items are very much about achieving a significant balance between inner world and outer world matters. It does not mean that the quantity the items bring more pleasure, but the individual experience of them. So, one slice of pizza can bring more happiness than six whole pizzas, in the right circumstances.
The clue is that it is not other people who dictate the criteria, but the criteria comes from within us.