By: Tiffany Zhang
“Every generation has a “monoculture” of sorts, a governing pattern or system of beliefs that people unconsciously accept as “truth”” - Brianna Wiest
I think collectively as a society, we think that our source of happiness should be extracted from our achievements and successes. We work every day at every second to reach those milestones because society tells us that that’s the only way we can be happy. But happiness is so subjective. It is not defined by how much money, property, friends, or kids a person has. It’s not a numerical objective that for example determines if a person reaches a net income of $1 million that they are “happier” than a person that only earns $50,000. In economics, the study determines a country’s well being by its income per capita. Yes, a country can have a higher number, but that number does not account for the wealth gap, the living conditions, or any other major problems the country is suffering from. Or from a psychologist’s perspective, we can measure the amount of serotonin (the “happiness” hormone) a person is emitting. However even if a person’s serotonin levels are high, because they are constantly comparing themselves to others, they might not realize how satisfied they “should” be.
Since it is a feeling that is so personal, it’s up to each individual to understand what events or things grant them pleasure. When you boil it down, it is the small things that happen every day that have the ability to create a cumulative effect on the way you perceive happiness. I urge you to notice the little things that happen every day that brings a smile to your face. When you derive fulfillment that way, it can add up to become that large milestone of happiness. A journal of gratitude is a great way to get yourself to notice those things. And of course, if journaling is not your thing, actively realizing it in your head makes you more consciously appreciative of the happiness around you.
I think that happiness depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations. Your material wealth brings stability and comfort and based on that foundation, you can seek what is beyond. Each person’s journey will be different and we obviously cannot be happy every single day. However, each little step can account for your larger journey to become a more satisfied and optimistic person.