Does happiness come from ‘WITH’IN?

Happiness comes from “with” as much as it comes from “within.”

by Preeti Khanuja

“Happiness comes from within.” We hear this phrase all the time, and it’s based on the belief that if you dig deep enough into yourself, you will figure out who you are, find all answers and everything will fall into place.

While I am in agreement with the overall premise of the message which means that you are responsible for your choices, it has become increasingly apparent to me that happiness comes from “with” as much as it comes from “within.”

In my opinion the issue with the relentless pursuit for self-knowledge, self understanding and inward focus is that it can unknowingly become an excuse for pursuing self-interest and even narcissism to an extent.

By no means I imply otherwise or mitigate the importance of introspection and self-care .Yes, it is crucial to take care of ourselves whether it means eating well, getting enough rest, being mindful, and exercising. All of these are good stress busters and certainly help us stay strong in the face of daily stressors but too much undue emphasis on the self can lead us astray.

When the focus is exclusively on I, me, myself – we stand at a risk of missing the most valuable about being social being, that which lies much beyond us.

Today we live in a “Big Me” culture one that glorifies personal happiness at the expense of community and relationships. The irony is that studies show that focusing on the “Big Me” actually undermines happiness and well-being. Research shows that the happiest people are the ones that have close ties to friends and family. Having said that social interaction beyond one’s immediate circle is important too.  

People who are likely to connect with other human beings, even strangers on a bus or in the waiting area, report to have brighter moods. Behavioural Scientists call this as “social snacking,” and it may just be the healthiest snack in the world for your mental wellbeing and overall happiness.

Happiness doesn’t occur in a vacuum and is never a solo enterprise.

We are social creatures, and our health both physical and mental largely depends on our social relationships and interactions. It’s well-known that having a shoulder to lean on can help us navigate our way through the toughest of time. Less well-known is the research that shows how doing things for others helps buffer against stress. In a research article it was revealed that participants who engaged in “other-focused” behaviour, such as holding a door, asking someone if they needed help, and lending a hand, reported better moods and lower daily stress levels than those who didn’t engage in helping behaviour.

The key to happiness therefore lies in seeking outward , transcending the immediate circle , connecting and interacting with others  and do things for others . Because the real joy lies in giving!


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