Why are some people happier than others? Money, power, position, none of these things cause happiness. Wealthy people spend more time in therapy than anyone else. Some people who have nothing, and logically have every reason to be depressed, are actually some of the happiest people. So where is the key to happiness? It is in the old admonition, “Know thyself.” Those who are happy are happy with themselves. No one, or no thing, can make you happy, or sad for that matter. Your reactions to life are your choice. So how do we truly know ourselves?
We all have multiple personalities, or as Jung called them “Persona” or masks. There is the “me” that my parents raised, the “me” my siblings know, the “me” that gets up every morning and goes to work (not a very nice me). There is the father me, the husband me, and the me that is writing this article. The list goes on through all of the diverse relationships I have with different people and groups. Yet they are all me, and none of them are really me at all.
Some people even lose themselves to one of their many masks. They wear it so often that it becomes dominant. If that mask is a shadow, or opposite, of their true self then the conflict can cause depression, anger, or a variety of symptoms. They are just not happy with “who they are”, but in fact it is just a mask they contrived that has effectively become them.
The first step to healing is the realization that most of what we present to the world is merely a mask. It is who we are, but it is also not us at all. We can change the masks anytime we wish. To find our true selves we must look deep within. We must find, not what we are expected to be, not the roles we are playing in our lives, but what is really us. What we are comfortable with, what comes natural, what makes us happy at our heart. That is the true person within, with all its flaws and paradoxes. We may not want to show that raw version of us to others, but we need to know it ourselves.
The basis of psychology is seeking that true inner self. Stripping away all of the masks and getting to know the real self. The old admonition, “Know thyself.” We can never be comfortable in our own skin unless we know and understand who we really are. Then we can chose whatever mask we desire to present to the world, while still being honest with ourselves. The happiest people are those who truly know who they are.