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Happiness is an emotional and mental state of well-being. It is a highly coveted commodity by many in life. Yet how to be happy, to remain happy, to find happiness, to promote happiness, and to understand happiness, confounds people on a daily basis. Hundreds of thousands of articles have been written on the subject and hundreds of thousands of research projects have been conducted to understand it, yet it remains elusive. All the while, “I just want to be happy,” echoes from the hearts of the masses.
I’m not a psychologist or anyone with authority on the subject, but I tend to be a generally happy person, and I thought if I imparted some of my takeaways, then, who knows, maybe it will help others find more of that juicy sunshine. I’m aware that brain chemistry plays a part and life circumstance and even the very definition of happiness, but I’m only suggesting some different tools that may help.
Happiness, doesn’t always have to be a struggle, or some figment of your imagination. By adjusting your approach to happiness, by changing your mindset, you can better attain and understand happiness. It is a matter of simplifying your approach and perceiving things differently. We have a way of complicating things that don’t need to be complicated.
Happiness is not a zero-sum game. Happiness does not only exist on an extreme end, meaning you don’t always have happiness or not. Happiness is an emotion that encompasses a spectrum. You don’t have to be at one end to experience it and enjoy it. It is not a zero-sum game. You have varying amounts of happiness throughout every moment of your life. Seizing those trace amounts of happiness and recognizing them provides you happiness and invites more into your life.
Happiness is created internally. Happiness is not something found or something that happens to you, it is something that is discovered, created, and cultivated within. You allow yourself to have happiness when you recognize that it is processed and created internally, not externally. Waiting for an external event to happen in order to allow yourself happiness is setting up faulty expectations, because “good” and “bad” life events overlap. Good and bad mix in every moment, so does happiness and sadness, your goal should be to maximize the ratio of happiness to sadness and all other emotions. Your mind reacts to what you focus on and your state of well-being largely depends on how you process the information you gather – so you allow yourself to have happiness.
Happiness is a choice. It is there if you want it, even in the grim moments. You have the power over your reactions and your actions. So often we fool ourselves into believing we can’t be happy, or we allow others and ourselves to obliterate it. We wallow in despair, and refuse to make movement towards what will make us happy. We get into an abusive relationship with our soul. What we forget is we can choose to be happy.
Happiness is not created equal. Happiness is not universal. Every person finds contentment in different ways. Understanding yourself and what it is that provides you happiness, is the path to happiness. Self-discovery is key, but it takes more than just self-discovery. You have to mindfully live each moment in the pursuit of those things that make you happy; you have to maximize your time by making decisions that promote your well-being, the things that make you happy.
How do you know what makes you happy? If you are having trouble, try fast forwarding a 100 years, and looking back on your life. What makes you smile? What good things stick out? What is it about those good things that stick out? I know this exercise is tricky because it might remind you of moments that you can never have again, like a relationship or loss. You’re allowed to be sad about those losses, but they don’t mean you can’t be happy ever again. The goal is not to find out who made you happy, but what makes you happy. Time with friends? Being healthy? Working out? Helping others? Reading? Playing a video game? ….Perhaps, travelling?
Happiness is necessary to survive life. You will be sad. Life is full of events and moments that will bring you down and threaten your very will to live. Living life to the fullest is really about learning to survive the harsh conditions that life propagates. The pursuit of happiness, the hope for a better next moment, is the way to survive it. Learn to let go and appreciate the good moments that you may never have again. You can have a book with more than one happy chapter. Happiness therefore is essential to a satisfactory life.
Sadness begets happiness. Sadness accentuates happiness for sadness begets happiness. The world is full of complements. It is the downs that give stature to the ups. You do not have to always be happy to live a happy life. It is okay, necessary, and even encouraged to experience other emotions. It is those times of vulnerability where we learn and find strength to successfully live more happily. Life is about balance.
Happiness thrives when you have value. Give value to yourself and your time, and you will increase your happiness. When all your moments have weight, value, you appreciate the happiness within them and you fight for happiness to exist within them. It is within these moments that happiness thrives, and if you allow the moments to pass without value, then happiness gets passed up as well. You will also find that the list of what makes you happy expands when you assign value.
Happiness is an art and science, and is comprised of both skill and knowledge. To succeed in having a life that promotes happiness, it comes down to how you approach it.
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“Live the life you love. Love the life you live.” – Bob Marley