I’m sure you have heard of the relativity theory of Einstein. In Einstein’s relativity theory, the measurement of the observation is relative to the speed with which the observer moves. Huuhh help, that’s sounds like rocket science! Enough physics for now!
But have you ever heard of the relativity theory of Happiness? For your good understanding, you probably guessed it and I confirm that Happiness is not like Einstein, a person called Mr or Mrs Happiness, but it is used as a noun. So after clearing that up, my next question is: “What is happiness relative to?” Haa, good question hennn? Do you know the answer?
And what if there is not only one answer? Maybe there are a lot of possible answers. Let’s explore… and discover!
There is nothing more practical than a good theory!
To know if happiness is relative to something else, we need to compare it with something else. Sounds logical, no?.
Let’s start to compare it with its opposite. Happiness can’t exist without unhappiness. Well-being can’t be appreciated without discomfort, and pleasure can’t be experienced without frustration. You need to feel unhappy sometimes, you need to feel frustrated sometimes and you need to feel distress sometimes. Huuuh? Aye that’s bad news and hopefully that sometimes is not for too long. But how else can you fully enjoy pleasure, happiness and well-being instead of taking it for granted?
Another option is to compare your life in the past with your life now and with what you think or want to be your life in the future. It’s obvious that your feelings of happiness and well-being are relative to the different periods in your life. You may have been very happy during your childhood but not so much anymore or on the contrary, had a difficult time during your teenager years and feeling on top of the world right now. And hopefully you can think of your future as a very bright and a sunny one, even better than the present!
Is all this too theoretical? We were talking about the THEORY of the relativity of Happiness, right? Anyhow, to make everybody happy, here are some practical aspects.
There is nothing more theoretical than good practice!
We continue comparing: During your life, your wants and needs are changing. This means that what made you happy in the past is not what makes you happy today and what will make you happy tomorrow will be something else than today.
As an example, do you remember a happy first time experience in your life? Your first date or your first trip abroad, or buying your first car or your first studio or apartment? How happy did it make you feel? Then after [fill out the blank here] number of dates, or when preparing for your nth trip abroad it feels different. When in the past you were happy with a very small car, you now might like to have a big one or a roadster and while today you are very happy with your small studio or apartment, you might want a house with a garden in the future.
Another comparison, one that can be the source of a lot of unhappiness is when you start comparing your life with someone else’s life. Others may be healthier, look better, be more intelligent, have more interesting careers, need to work less, earn more money, get more chances, have more friends, have more fun… you name it. There is always someone out there who has more of or is better at what you want.
So it’s useless to compare yourself with someone else and make yourself unhappy because of that. Instead, it’s good practice to take responsibility for your life and work towards what it is that you want. Then after some time you can compare your achievements, even small ones, with where you were at the start.
You see, positive feelings, pleasure, happiness and well-being are very relative. The measurement of the positive feeling is relative to the reference point of the one experiencing it. Bloody Einstein! 😉