Few years back, after arriving friendless and lonely from Denmark to live in Pakistan and seek happiness. I downloaded a “happiness app” onto my phone, There were close to a thousand bliss-promising options in the app store and hard to choose one — ones that would teach you to meditate or be grateful, the app I eventually chose messaged me every hour or so with a positive affirmation that I was supposed to repeat to myself over and over. “I am beautiful,” or “I am enough.”
The problem was, every time my phone buzzed with an incoming message, I would get a Pavlovian jolt of excitement thinking an actual person was trying to contact me. “I am enough,” I really wasn’t.
“Happiness comes from within,” said the inspirational photo-card in my Facebook news feed a few days later, which motivated me to research and rethink about happiness and anxiety, I’ve noticed that this particular strain of happiness advice — the kind that pitches the search for contentment as an internal, personal quest, divorced from other people — has become increasingly common.
Variations include “Happiness is determined not by what’s happening around you, but what’s happening inside you”; “Happiness should not depend on other people”; and the perky and socially shareable “Happiness is an inside job.” This is happiness framed as journey of self-discovery, rather than the natural byproduct of engaging with the world; a happiness that stresses emotional independence rather than interdependence; one based on the idea that meaningful contentment can be found only by a full exploration of the self, a deep dive into our innermost souls and the intricacies and tripwires of our own personalities.
Step 1: Find Yourself.
Step 2: Be Yourself
Self-reflection, introspection and some degree of solitude are important parts of a psychologically healthy life. But somewhere along the line we seem to have gotten the balance wrong. Because far from confirming our insistence that “happiness comes from within,” a wide body of research tells us almost the exact opposite. Academic happiness studies are full of anomalies and contradictions, often revealing more about the agendas and values of those conducting them than the realities of human emotion. But if there is one point on which virtually every piece of research into the nature and causes of human happiness agrees, it is this: our happiness depends on other people.
Because happiness were not found, actually humans can’t be happy without them. This is a finding that cuts across race, age, gender, income and social class so overwhelmingly that it dwarfs any other factor. And according to study,if we want to be happy, we should really be aiming to spend less time alone. Despite claiming to crave solitude when asked in the abstract, when sampled in the moment, people across the board consistently report themselves as happier when they are around other people than when they are on their own.
Surprisingly this effect is not just true for people who consider themselves extroverts but equally strong for introverts as well.
What’s more, neglecting our social relationships is actually shockingly dangerous to our health. The most significant thing we can do for our well-being is not to “find ourselves” or “go within.” It’s to invest as much time and effort as we can into nurturing the relationships we have with the people in our lives…….