"Akira, my beloved, I see sweat beads on your forehead. Is there something that bothers you?", asked the wise old sage.
"I guess... I'm unsure. I don't feel like myself anymore.", said the concerned Akira.
"This 'myself' that you mention, what is that self like?", the sage enquired.
"Well I guess, I used to be crazy, full of life and always happy. My friends say I used to exude happiness anywhere and everywhere I went, you know, like a bundle of joy. But, now they tell me I have changed. They tell me I have lost my spark. I wonder if this is real, you know? Have I really forgotten how to be happy?", said Akira as he poured his heart out.
A faint smile subtly painted itself on the sage's face as he looked at Akira and disclosed, "Akira, you don't need to be happy. Just be content."
Happiness is extremely overrated. The word happiness, with its simplistic connotation of pleasure, has gotten the whole world chasing and running behind an illusion of a perfect, happy life. People are inescapably judged based on their degree of happiness, and the amount of pleasure they derive from life. But really, one should watch out for this vicious circle of societal judgments and the need to acquire happiness as a measure of one's well-being. In this society, we are all just blind, leading blind.
In the above interaction of Akira with the sage, those few wise words reveal how happiness is not what one's end goal should be. It should rather be contentment. One should work towards deriving satisfaction from their walk of life, rather than blindly running behind what society proclaims as happiness. Learning the skill of contentment is generally neglected as we have been taught to focus on attaining what we don't have instead of finding fulfilment in the realisation of what we do have. Contentment leaves you feeling fulfilled, satisfied and grateful, whereas happiness is fleeting, temporary and always accompanied by sadness. Hence, don't run after happiness, but rather work towards a well-balanced and well-prioritised life comprising of both materialistic and spiritual goals.
People's perception of your well-being is not important, yours is. Don't worry about forgetting how to be happy, as long as you remember how to be content.