Would you be happy under the blue sky of Mexico with a glass of margarita in your hand? Or on a white sandy beach in California under a palm tree? Perhaps skiing in hot Dubai? Or is there a place for happiness at all?
What motivates people to travel, study, get married, have kids, or do things they love? Is it because we want to be happy as we endlessly try in our own ways to find the things that we can ultimately define as happiness? Or is it because we want to fulfill the needs that drive us to act on it?
What is happiness and how is it defined? Is it a chemical reaction in the brain or perhaps the production of certain hormones? Is it an unconscious reaction or a conscious awareness of a certain situation?
As Kimmo Takanen, author of the book “Tunne Lukkosi” translated in English as “Feeling your lock” states:
"True happiness comes from meeting needs." It's quite hard to argue against that. In short, if we get the basic life needs such as oxygen, food, shelter, security, and we feel loved, valued, and have a sense of belongingness and self-fulfillment, then we should be happy.
This is how Abraham Maslow's needs hierarchy pyramid is built. He is the psychologist who created the theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. The theory was that we all have basic needs that must be met first, after which one begins to seek satisfaction for "higher" needs.
As we fill the bottom of the pyramid, we can move to the top of the pyramid and be happily satisfied.
In this case:
Physiological needs are food, maintaining proper body temperature, and breathing.
Security needs refer to stability, work, resources, health, security.
Social needs include communication with others, friendships, expressions of love, the feeling of belongingness to community, and approval of the group.
The need for recognition level contains self-esteem and self-respect.
The need for self-actualization is the need to transcend our mortality and leave our mark on the world. This desire is related to our moral and spiritual development as we seek the true purpose of life.
The blocks of this pyramid are assembled in different ways in different people. But the main question is, are we all genuinely happy with our lives? Or does the pyramid look perfect only from the outside?
In my case, I've started to listen to my feelings more. I've made an effort to consciously think about all the good things I already have in my life and to always have a grateful heart for all of them. Doing this made me appreciate and feel happiness even on my daily 30-minute morning train rides. I guess what I need to work on is fulfilling my last need -my own time or self-actualization, something I can have when I write.
So for me, happiness has no permanent place. It sometimes leaves home with me, follows me on my bike to the train station and continues to Helsinki. I hope it jumps on your ride too, wherever you go. 😊