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Jan 24, 2021
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Where is the elephant lost? A psychologist on how to find happiness

Tells Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Social Psychology, Moscow State Regional University Olga Ovsyanik

About three elephants

Everybody interprets the word “happiness” in their own way. For philosophers, happiness is the absence of unhappiness. For physiologists, this is a cocktail of serotonin, oxytocin, domorphine and endorphins. For psychologists, happiness doesn’t exist at all. After all, this is something that cannot be touched, folded into a suitcase or presented to another.

Most people mean by the word happiness either short-term states (joy, falling in love, serenity, an unexpected gift of fate), or a happy (or rather, balanced) life. The state in which all spheres of life are in a state of balance.

A happy life is similar to the ancient image of the picture of the world – a bowl that rests on three elephants standing on a turtle.

Who is who

Turtle (foundation) is, of course, health. A happy state is always based on health. If there is health, it is possible; if not, it is extremely problematic.

In order for the bowl on the elephants to stand straight, all the elephants must be the same size. Otherwise, there will be a bias, the bowl will tilt, and the feeling of a happy life will disappear. This means that not a single, even the most important area of ​​a person’s life can replace all his other needs.

However, the elephants themselves are variable quantities. They can change with you (more precisely, with your needs). Today, elephants can be stability and prosperity. If in a year you decide that stability is a swamp, and travel and self-realization can become elephants, and in another six months – love and children.

There were three elephants on the ancient map. But in life there are much more props for happiness. And among them there are several unshakable, permanent ones.

A happy life depends on our self-confidence, openness (psychologists call this basic trust in the world), a sense of humor and the ability to enjoy life, interest in the world and thirst for knowledge. If these props are absent, happy states may arise, but they will disappear just as quickly (like ripples on water). Because without these qualities, a person remains a hostage of the situation, a weather vane, the state of which depends on the direction of the wind. As soon as it changes, the person becomes unhappy.

Happiness cannot depend on external factors (whether someone you love loves you, do you have a job, do you have enough money). This is what lives inside a person, and does not come from outside.

Remember childhood, when the feeling of happiness did not leave you for a minute. What overwhelmed you? Dreams, daily discoveries, faith in a miracle, striving for the future, faith in the best and the ability to rejoice in what you have. Jumped over a puddle? Perfectly. Throwing a pebble farthest – victory.

Think, because you probably had it too. If today you consider your life to be unhappy, it means that you have lost this magic somewhere on the way to a brighter future.

What to do?

First of all, understand what you are missing. What elephant did you lose on the way to a brighter future and how can it be replaced or restored? To do this, you need to remember what you dreamed of and what you aspired to.

Sometimes misfortunes help to understand this, which knock out the last support. The bowl falls, shatters to smithereens, and a man, looking at the wreckage, realizes that in fact everything that was broken was his happiness. He wanted freedom, but he lost stability. But in fact, he needed her.

Once you find the balance, you will understand what needs to be cultivated and what to try to reanimate.

Most often, talking with other people helps to understand yourself. In Japan there is a garden of Fifteen stones, where from any point (even from above), only fourteen are visible. So it is in life. No matter how hard you try to audit your life on your own, you will hardly be able to see the fifteenth stone. This can be done either with the help of loved ones whom you trust and who have sufficient life experience, or with the help of a psychologist who has professional experience.

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