Happiness is not the absence of problems

Happiness is not the absence of problems

The happy person, far from having no problems, has stopped seeing them as threats to recognize them as challenges. He does not let himself be overwhelmed by mistakes, but rather rides them and learns from them.

Happiness is not the absence of problems

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it is rather the predisposition to change, tolerating the possible uncertainty caused by fear. Well, accepting this may not be easy. As Albert Camus said, people are as obsessed with the pursuit of happiness as those who seek the Holy Grail. However, well-being is neither a goal nor a goal, it is rather a daily exercise that requires new approaches and appropriate strategies.

Several decades have passed since the psychologist Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, stressed the need not to focus on pathological states to strengthen optimal moods and thus promote vital dynamics. Since the birth of positive psychology in the 1990s, there has been an explosion of well-meaning theories and advice that continues to grow.

Thousands of books on happiness are published every year. Universities offer hundreds of courses on this topic and today figures like Tal Ben-Shahar stand out as true gurus in this field. New areas have also arisen such as affective neuroscience, whose experts explain to us what happens in our brains when we are happy and what we should do to strengthen that state.

All of these trends, approaches and perspectives are as interesting as they are inspiring. However, they are shades of the same basis: we have transformed the concept of happiness into a marketing product. Even more, we are "educating" the population on how to be happy, but at the same time, we are making them intolerant to discomfort, sadness, anxiety and uncertainty.

Our immediate reality is certainly not easy. Often, no matter how hard we try to be happy, the context doesn't help us. If it is therefore true that happiness is not the absence of problems, it is perhaps the case with review the very concept of happiness. Let's see how.

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it is acting in spite of fear

Happiness is not the absence of problems. If so, it would be an event as exceptional as it is unusual. The surrounding environment is not aseptic, changes occur, unforeseen events occur, we relate to others almost every day and friction, differences and misunderstandings can arise. Regardless of our social status, age or where we live, problems will always arise and no one is immune from what is happening around and within them.

In this context, it should be noted that in recent years new voices from the academic world have emerged with a very clear purpose: to offer us another vision of happiness. Psychologists such as Jerome Wakefield (New York University) and Allan Horwitz (Rutgers) have written interesting books such as The Loss of Sadness. How psychiatry turned sadness into depression. In this work, we are told that we are banning realities such as sadness and frustration from our emotional repertoire as if the living space we yearn for were outside them.

By not recognizing them and not including them in our speech, consequently giving greater relevance to positive emotions, we illiterate people in matters of emotions. Nowadays, not everyone knows what to do about stress and anxiety. Not everyone knows what causes that weight on the stomach, that fear that paralyzes and that sometimes prevents you from leaving the house. Knowing how to manage adversity and complex emotional states also mediates our possibility of being happy.

Happiness is daring to act despite fear and uncertainty

At this point, we would like to retrieve an appropriate and inspiring definition of happiness. In it converge both neuroscientists and psychologists, psychiatrists, economists and even Buddhist monks. It is about making sense of life, having goals and engaging in active behavior. It is the will to grow and accept daily adversities and challenges. In essence, this would be the right approach.

In his day Eduard Punset stated that happiness is the absence of fear. This misinterpreted idea is somewhat perverse: the human being cannot but be afraid, this emotion is inherent in us and, as such, performs its function. Different, actually. This could be an example: “I may also be afraid of changing cities and starting a new life, but I know I have to do it. Taking this step will allow me to evolve; therefore, I choose to dare and I do it despite my fears ».

Be aware that problems may arise, but still feel able to deal with them

Happiness is not the absence of problems. In fact, it begins to gain ground when we rise above the challenges. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, is one of the leading experts in eradicating myths about positive psychology and happiness. She often states that well-being does not consist in achieving results, goals and, much less, in owning things.

The human being achieves a sense of balance and fulfillment when he is comfortable with himself. When she considers herself able to cope with what can happen, when her self-esteem is strong and she manages fears, stress, worries, etc., everything flows and goes well.

And, therefore, understand that life is not simple, that it always leaves marks and scars, that it is an immutable reality and that must be accepted. It is a rule of the game that we cannot change. No one is immune from problems and unexpected turns. We must therefore learn to accept these events and work on our personal growth, as well as on the psychological strengths that allow us to invest in our well-being.

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