I don’t think anybody would argue that what makes us happy as kids might not bring us even close to the same level of happiness as an adult , that toy tractor in the picture above would have been right up my alley as a kid , I would still enjoy looking at it as an adult but the happiness level wouldn’t even be close to the same. Beyond childhood our happiness becomes a bit harder to achieve, our interests , our lives, our minds, become more complex, what makes us happy becomes more complex and changes in subtle slow motion ways.
A healthy person will continuously evolve in all aspects of their lives, your happiness , what makes you happy, will evolve too. In order to evolve in any aspect we need to be open to change, human beings are constantly in the state of flux. I recently read an article on Psychology Today ‘Fifty Shades of Happiness ” by Elyakim Kislev, Ph.D , it’s a really nicely written article, definitely worth your time to read that introduces the concept of defining what happiness means to us individually as opposed to what society says will make us happy.. Where this article fits into this particular blog entry is the notion that our happiness targets change as we age, this from the article…
” In a recent study, researchers took an empirical approach, recognizing that happiness might change over a life cycle. They examined 12 million personal blogs and how the authors reported and described emotions. They also simultaneously conducted a related series of surveys and laboratory experiments to see how conceptions of happiness may shift. They found, for example, that there is a general age differential when it comes to the perception of happiness. While young people associate happiness with excitement, older people perceive happiness as peacefulness. The authors of the study explain that this shift seems to occur naturally across the life cycle, as peoples’ focus shifts from the future (among young people) to the present as they age.”
I can’t help but wonder if this is why folks have mid life crisis or just feel lost or unconnected at a point in their lives, I’m willing to bet a lot of unhappiness as we age could be eliminated entirely by simply checking in with ourselves to see if certain routines, habits , friends , hobbies are up to date with what truly brings us happiness. I can say with all certainty that a good many things that brought me happiness in my early years would actually make me unhappy ! A night of bar hopping was fun and exciting when I was a teenager but at 55 it would seem more like a chore, just not something that would bring me even an ounce of joy. That is a really extreme example but society in general creates equally absurd notions of happiness, if you just had this , or just do this , just go here you will be happy, it’s absurd because no 2 people happiness can be defined by the same criteria.. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before but emulating what you see as “happy peoples” lives will NOT make you happy.
So what to do ? Well first as the article I cited above indicates, you need to map out what happiness looks like or means to you, this really can be challenging because once again many of the things we think might make us happy are societal myths. Secondly you need to know and accept that what happiness looks like today is not necessarily what happiness will look like tomorrow. Don’t get stuck in activities that once brought joy but now is just something you do, I see this a lot in some of the car clubs I’m in, folks that aren’t necessarily interested or excited but attend just because they can’t think of anything better to do..
You will change, your interests will change, what makes you happy WILL change ! Life is not by design stagnant, as things and situations change around us it is only natural that what brings us happiness will also change ! As we grow older feel free to define your path for happiness and happiness will follow
Find your Happiness , Share your Happiness !