I read today in Psychology Today that the key to happiness is: curiosity. I can vouch for this, for it is the only thing that keeps me from going over to the other side. I truly believe the world is wonderful, and everything from Louis Armstrong to a Gucci bag excites me. I am happiest when I am busy knowing things and most miserable when I think of what I’ve done, am doing and will do with my life.
If you’re sure of something, you really don’t need to think about it too much. You’re less likely to think about why you love the people in your life, or worry too much if they love you back, if things are going great with them. When you’re truly happy, you are too busy living to be thinking about your happy life, and what makes you happy in it. You feel grateful from time to time, and at times express it too, but further deliberation and cognition is not required. You’re too busy experiencing the moment to think about it, because thinking about it would waste further opportunities to live such moments.
Which is why two pieces of seemingly sound advice for the unhappy, err…shall we say, dissatisfied?, makes me think they are actually counterproductive towards happiness. That is, if productivity is involved in the first place. One is, love will find you when you least expect it, and therefore you should not look for it. Yeah, you really can switch the “I need/want more love than I am getting right now” mode off in your emotional makeup and get on with your life, with the hope that, and here’s the second piece of “seemingly sound advice for the
unhappy dissatisfied,” things will sort themselves out.
Life is hard work. Happiness is hard work. Even being miserable is pretty hard work and only those who’ve been there know how hard it is to be not living, not doing things and being around people in a way that is present and responsive. It is just as hard being open to things in life as it is being closed to them. So, in case you are open to it, why do you want to close it down? Do you take comfort in the idea of love coming to you when you least expect it so that you don’t have do anything about it? Or of things sorting themselves out because, again, you don’t have to do anything about it?
Guess what, you do everything that needs to be done for all your other wants and needs in life. You actually took the trouble of brushing your teeth this morning. You have to buy your groceries, do your job, clean your house. You don’t ponder hard as to why you do any of them. It’s because it needs to be done, and no one else is going to do it for you. Even for doing things you may potentially love, like learning a new skill or going on a holiday, you need to be active and proactive to get the most out of those experiences. You have to work towards creating those experiences for yourself in the first place, and then making them as satisfactory as possible. Love isn’t any different.
And this doesn’t apply only to those looking for love. Even for those who’ve found it, nurturing it is a never-ending task that is part of being in love. You have to create love everyday. Curiosity is key to this too, because the whole point of being in a love relationship is not to stagnate at a fixed comfortable point, but to continually move in a direction of fulfilment drawn from new experiences.
I am not saying you are guaranteed to find love if you start looking for it, or that every matter can be solved if you make an effort, but giving it a good try is better than doing nothing at all. Especially because, after a while, doing nothing seems to become the only safe response to life, except that it doesn’t actually help you get the most out of living. If you’ve faced trauma, or are too preoccupied with other things to cultivate new relationships or give more time and effort to existing ones, you shouldn’t add to your worries thinking you’re doing nothing about them. Ultimately, the key towards being open to life and the experiences it has to offer is to be always sure of the idea that you can handle whatever comes your way. In fact, you’d even be curious about it, something you can do just as yourself, wherever you are.