Written By Liesbeth van der Linden - HYGGEWellbeing Ambassador
When we are born, all we do is breathe and enjoy life. We look at the world with wonder and we are happy. Everything happens naturally, we move, we grow, we develop, we don’t have to ‘think’ about how we do it. In fact, at that stage we are not even aware that we have thoughts.
The only thing that gets in the way of our ‘state of happiness’ is when we start to feel uncomfortable, so we start crying and come out of nowhere: there’s food, a hug or a diaper change! And we relax again and return to our happy state.
We learn early on that the source of our return to ‘happy state’ comes from outside of us. We get attention when we make noise, we get food when we cry. So we learn to attribute our happiness to things or people external to us.
But luckily most of the time, at least up to the age of 5 or 6, we are still deeply connected to our innately happy state and we just show up as we are: we hear music and we dance, we see crayons and we draw, we see people we love and we walk into their arms. We also learn about fear early on. At one point, we unintentionally spill food on Mommy’s new blouse, or we discover that these crayons can create beautiful, coloured lines on the wall. The reactions we get scare us, so we learn ways to stay safe. That’s when we start to believe that we need to ‘do’ or ‘don’t do’ certain things to either get love, approval, attention and happiness or ‘do’ or ‘don’t do’ things to avoid being in danger, be rejected and stay safe. That the source of our happiness lies OUTSIDE us, instead of within us. We form thoughts, strategies and believes to stay in ‘control of our lives’ that seem to work for us. But do they really? Fast forward in life, we are still trying to find happiness by collecting everything we can from the outside world: lots of money, great job, beautiful house, nice car, a partner who loves us. But we also know there are people who ‘seem to have it all’ but still feel miserable. They are so caught up with keeping their ‘control system’ in place that it exhausts them. They are so busy chasing for the next thing that will bring them happiness that they have lost touch with who they really are underneath that control system. Forgotten the ability to ‘be’ happy. Michael Neill describes this so well, saying: “Well-being – happiness, contentment, love, peace, spirit – is our essential nature. So all attempts to capture these feelings from out in the world, no matter how well intended and practically followed, are doomed to fail. Not because happiness and wellbeing are unattainable, but simply because it’s impossible to find what has never been lost.” Let’s Lead! Liesbeth van der Linden