5 Reasons Why We Have A Hard Time Realizing When We're Happy

by Lauren Martin
“I have finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it” – Rita Mae Brown

Why is it happiness is so readily found in retrospect? Why can we see it so clearly in the future, but never in the moment? Why is it we always realize it when it’s too late, when all we can do now is wish for a past that will never return? Why is happiness only an elusive state that once was and no longer just is?

Unfortunately, for most of the human race, we have a hard time living in the moment, or more simply, noticing when we’re enjoying the moment.

Whether we’re hardwired this way or have become this way over years of superficial distractions and stressful responsibilities, we’ve adapted into creatures prone to living in the future and lamenting the past, skipping over the present entirely and missing those moments of joy.

This is not how life is to be experienced. Life is to be lived one day at a time, with each day a new slate, a new opportunity to see the world in another way.

It’s supposed to open every morning like a blooming bud, turning its head toward the sun. It’s not supposed to stay closed because it’s worrying about the rain or the bees. A flower has no remorse over the course of the days before or after it, because it does nothing but thrive in the moments of its bloom.

The past is to be left in the tracks of your quickly receding mistakes, while the future is an exciting unknown that should be given as much thought and mystique as death and the after-life.

The future, like death, is a beautiful mystery, something that should take up no conscious or unconscious room in your continually expanding mind. The future is nothing but a continuation of your present, gliding effortlessly from one moment to the next.

And while we can have hopes, dreams and goals for ourselves, we should never live wrapped up in those thoughts, because living anywhere besides the moment is what keeps us from noticing the most important moment in life: when we’re happy.

The only way we are going to learn to be happy, and appreciate the moments before they are distant memories of better days, is to learn to be present.

However, this idea, living effortlessly and wholly in the present, is easy to preach, but much harder to practice. But, why? Why is it so hard for us to live in the moment and forget everything else? Why does it take years of dedication to become as present as the monks of Tibet or those people who are just happy all the time -- happy to be alive, happy to be with you in this moment and this time?

Unfortunately, we’ve developed a bad habit and, like all bad habits, this one can be hard to break. Of course, the first step to breaking the habit is figuring out why you have it. Why do you act this way? What causes you to be so distant and wrapped up in a world that isn’t real? Why do we have such a hard time noticing when we’re happy?

We Have Attachment Issues

Mistakes, regrets and missed opportunities are things that can haunt you for the rest of your life, or they can be as insignificant and invisible as the dust left behind you.

Holding on to your failures and your success from a time that is no longer relevant is dragging yourself back to a place you should no longer be. Unlike being stuck at school or taking a test when you’d rather just be home watching TV, you have the choice to get up and leave.

Why stay chained in a prison when you can be free to do whatever you want, whenever you want? Let go of everything from your past because it means nothing now.

We Like To Sleep With Our Eyes Open

Daydreaming is as easy and fun as slipping into a Netflix marathon that turns hours into days and days into weeks. It’s a great way to pass the time, but it’s not the right way.

While it’s okay to indulge in your fantasies of the future or a life you may never have, it’s a waste of your time right now and the life that you should be creating for yourself. Stop walking around with your eyes closed and you will start to see what’s in front of you.

We’ve Become Temporarily Blinded

Many of us don’t notice when we’re happy because we’ve forgotten how to enjoy ourselves, to notice when we are content in the moment.

Sometime between when we were kids and didn’t know anything besides living in the moment, to becoming adults, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy ourselves.

We no longer ride our bikes feeling nothing more than pure joy with the wind in our faces or get engrossed in a good movie, forgetting everything around us and in front of us. We have forgotten how to realize when something is perfect, when life is great in the moment.

We Want Greener Grass

We've lost an important and valuable skill: the art of appreciation. This skill is one acquired at birth but gradually shed as we become tainted and spoiled through life.

Instead of enjoying ourselves, we’re constantly thinking about how the situation, the place and this moment in life could be better.

The weather could be nicer, the food could be richer, we could be skinnier, prettier, taller. We have a habit of picking at what’s wrong, rather than what’s right. Instead of looking at all the wonderful things around us, we look for what’s missing and what’s not right.

We’re Out Of Focus

It’s easy to get your priorities mixed, but you must learn how to get them back in line after you’ve jumbled them up. Over time we’ve managed to create a complicated web of skewed priorities, wrongful concerns and misplaced preferences.

We think we know what we want, but we don’t know anything because we haven’t been thinking clearly for years. Once you bring yourself down to your most basic form, completely unhinged by ideals and concerns for yourself, you will find what’s most important to you and learn to bask in uninhibited bliss.

Photo via We Heart It