I am writing this because I am repeatedly asked to clarify the confusion around what happiness really means.

Time and again I have emphasized the importance that emotions have in our lives. They are synonymous to life because without them, we become hollow, instinctive creatures who only run on automatic reactions unable to make conscious memories.

With that said, the strongest emotion our heart craves is the one of happiness. I refrain from expressions like bliss and joy because for many they mean the same thing.

But it’s the prevailing understanding of what happiness means that creates much of the pain the world is enduring right now. I have said in the past that happiness is the choice between something we must attain or afford (sad work) or something we discover within ourselves and express through our work (happy work).

For the many billions who see happiness as a commodity we can buy- vacations, retreats, stuff- happiness has become a futile sensation. A numbing agent. A short break from the aches of life. Happiness in this case is the absence of the threats that the world poses. So with higher walls and tighter security, more botox, a flashier car and a better title people falsely assume they’re doing great. They think they are happy.

I spell this kind of “happiness” in lowercase because it is passing, must be fed with lots of hurtful actions and is at constant risk of being lost. There is no difference between a cocaine high and this sort of happiness. Both are illusive and lead to a loss of self. This kind of happiness lives outside of us because it depends on conditions outside of us that we cannot control but that we desperately seek to manage.

The uppercase HAPPINESS that is at the helm of happy work is completely different in nature. I like to compare it to an operating system or a general perspective that stays. This kind of HAPPINESS means that you are completely aligned with yourself because you know yourself inside out. It means that because you make the experience of HAPPINESS your guiding intention for every day, you recognize yourself first and then the world around you for what it is and move within it as exactly the person you are.

Contrary to the happy person, the HAPPY person lives inside out. Free of pretense and pretending, leading a non-defensive life. They don’t react to things to defend themselves, they respond with their authentic self to present themselves. You could call this HAPPINESS simply “falling into life.”

Now you might falsely assume that this entails that a HAPPY person is always smiling. This is, of course, far from the truth. Even with HAPPINESS at the core of our being we can still experience heartache and grief, but not because things happen to us but because we choose to have a healthy emotional response. 

This makes us the owner of our emotional reality, which is one of the greatest things you will ever experience.


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