"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on gratitude and finding happiness in the unremarkable things of life.
By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea
Amid the hustle of busy work and personal lives, happiness can sometimes feel like a pursuit, triggered by something pleasurable such as a purchase, an interaction with a friend or an experience.
When it comes to the experience or purchase, the bigger it is, the happier we believe we’ll be. If we could just buy that house, or car, or new suit, then we’ll be happy. Once I have a partner or get that job or have a child – then I’ll be happy.
Unfortunately, defining our happiness by moments created outside of ourselves isn’t sustainable. Ever bought a of piece of jewelry or new outfit, and then notice you’re still not happy, or your happiness is short-lived and you’ve moved onto something else?
This experience isn’t uncommon, it’s known as the theory of hedonic adaptation, which suggests people quickly revert to original levels of happiness after the novelty of the experience has worn off.
Zen practice suggests the greatest happiness can be found in the most unremarkable of things. Rather than trying to achieve happiness from materialistic means or external validation, we focus on finding a sense of calm and contentment in simple, everyday things – daily.
These are the moments often right in front of us, but their value is priceless. They’re our comfort, our sense of meaning, our feeling of peace and grounding.
Showing gratitude for what you have in your life can be a means to slow down the hedonic adaptation and experience more joy in your day. This awareness means you’re less likely to get caught up in a ground-hog-day mentality.
It’s stopping to smell the roses. For me it’s the ocean. Being near it, having my feet in it. It fills me with instant calm, peace, and happiness.
To breathe in and out, to be able to get out of bed, to pat your dog, to kiss your partner or child. As ordinary and unremarkable as these events may seem, these moments actually make life amazing.
Happiness is in front of us every day. We just need to pause and take notice of it.