Finding Happiness in Simplicity

Happiness is subjective – everyone has their own definition. Simplicity is objective – the simple lacks complication; the simple is natural and obvious.

Although the simple is obvious, it often goes unnoticed. Our time and attention are sucked away by the motion and complexity of everyday life.

So where does happiness come from? My answer is simple-ish:

Happiness comes from positive experiences.

Hard to disagree, right?

Although ‘positive experience’ is an extremely vague answer; experiences that are positive can be found in a lot of different contexts – both simple and complex.

I propose a paradigm shift.

Rather than view your complex experience as wholly positive or negative – I suggest you break them apart and pass judgement on each unique instance that together, make up your entire experience.

Viewing the simple components of your complex experience creates an opportunity for you to appreciate things that may have previously gone unnoticed.

For instance, a complex experience you may have had in the city is a commute home from work. Whether you walk or take the subway, you pass by hundreds, if not thousands of people.

The simple components of this complex experience could look like this:

  • As you walk, you pass by street art and instead of rushing by it with the crowd, you take a moment to slip into the artists mind and attempt to understand the origin of his or her creation.
  • Waiting for the subway, you notice an old woman drop her cane. Before you have time to react, you see a stranger stop to pick it up for her. Instead of immediately retracting your attention, allow a smile to form – a genuine reaction to your observation of a random act of kindness.
  • One the train, there are many people – standing room only. You look around and see 100 people staring blankly into space or at the screens in their hands. Instead of joining this indifference, you choose to rest your face in a soft smile. As a result, people who you happen to make eye contact with you accept your positive energy and briefly shift their expression from one of indifference to one of cheer – a reciprocation of the energy you naturally expel.

Personal contentment in the little things that make up all of your experiences results in a new outlook on the experience as a whole. Experiences that may have been previously viewed as wholly negative, become justifiably positive, simply because of the little things you chose to observe along the way.

There is good in most things.

We must understand that this good is never hiding; it is simply waiting patiently for us to notice it.

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