Why do we always feel that we need something to be happy? We think that if only we had more money, we were in a different relationship, or driving a better car, our lives would be complete. Sometimes we even think if we had a life like that of somebody else, we would be happy. I was the same way. I always felt that if I could achieve what I needed then I would be happy. Well, I achieved most of the things I wanted but still my level of happiness did not change. Sometimes achievement even lives you feeling empty, tired and dissatisfied. That’s how I got to realise that happiness is not something that will come upon you after achieving some grand something.
There is a myth that people often have, “money makes people happy”. Well, I am here to help you, money alone, will never make anyone happy. If you can’t be happy without money, you won’t be happy with money either. I may not know what the ultimate success would be but to me, happiness is the ultimate success. We come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing the best we can ever achieve is to live our lives happily.
So, what’s this thing called Happiness?
To me happiness is satisfaction and contentment. It’s not a state of lack but a state of contentment with what you have and who you are, your ability to live harmoniously with yourself and your environment without feeling as if something is missing. It is a state of our mind in which we feel content and at peace with the world and ourselves. It means that you are pleased with yourself and your choices, and with the person that you are. It is the overriding or most prevailing emotion that you can experience. As a human being it is impossible not to be disappointed at one point or another, or not to be angry or sad at times but that doesn’t mean you are not happy, as long as they are just moments that come and go, they are to be tolerated. Unless that becomes your most prevailing state of mind or the frequency increases then you need to look into it. As long as you experience positive emotions like joy more prevalently, then you are a happy person.
Negative emotions will always pop up in one’s life because nobody is immune to life stressors but happy people have a different way of dealing with them because they are always glued to positivity, therefore, the negative emotions will not have as much an impact on them as with other people.
Uncertainty is a natuaral part of life and acceptance is key under such circumstances. For example, when getting married nobody expects to divorce, when writing an exam or starting a business, nobody expects to fail but failure and divorce are uncertain realities of life because in life there are never guarantees. A lot of life’s disappointments and frustrations come from failure to acknowledge and accept current realities and this even stiffles progress and hapiness. Happy people accept their realities because It’s easier to process something once you have accepted it.
As Michael J. Fox said: “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
Why is Happiness So Important?
You might be wondering why happiness is considered such an important aspect of life, as there are many components of a meaningful life.
- Happy people are lovely to be around and they create a positive environment around them.
- Happy people succeed in multiple domains of life, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health.
- Happy people make friends easily because their nature attracts people naturally.
- Happy people are kind to others and are also cheerful givers, they help others.
- Happiness is contagious. Happy people share their happiness with others and therefore create a happiness multiplication effect.
- Happy people offer a strong support system for others going through life’s challenges because they always have a positive life outlook and are optimistic
- Happy people lead healthy lives, they have a strong immune system and therefore are more likely to live longer
- Happy people are more productive and more creative in everything they do.
Because of the benefits that can be derived from being happy, I have shared some habits of being happy below, habits that have also assisted me in living a happy life.
Habits of being happy
To be happy, you need to do things that are emotionally fulfilling.
- Choose to be happy now.
If you are gonna wait for circumstances to be perfect so that you can be happy then you are gonna wait forever because it is an almost impossible situation in any human being’s life. Circumstances will never be perfect. Do not wait for some great event to happen so that you can be happy. Happiness begins when you tell yourself that you are happy. Therefore your happiness is all wrapped around you, if you program your mind then you can program your happiness . Because if you don’t choose to be happy you will never be happy.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
- Assign the task to yourself.
Happiness is an insider job, do not subcontract it to anyone else. Do not wait for someone to come make you happy, it’s not a job that you can give to someone and trust them to execute it for you.
- Before you involve other people, learn to be happy by yourself.
If you cannot be happy alone then you cannot be happy with anyone else.
- Be friendly.
Meet the world with a pleasant temperament and it is bound to give you back the same. Never meet a stranger-be friendly to everyone u meet. Offer warmth and a pleasant environment for everyone you meet. Nobody wants to be around a gloomy person.
- Smile often.
Always practice to smile, nobody ever died from it. Smiles are also contagious, once you give it, you will get it in return and you will even feel better. Human beings are social beings, they want to be accepted and feel warm around you. A smile releases positive energy around you and getting it from someone has a healing effect on you. The payoffs of a smile are always huge.
- Be empathetic.
Value humanity above all else. When you help someone, it transmits positive energy to you, to know that you were able to change somebody’s life or situation. Don’t be guilty of giving less than you should. Dunn has authored numerous studies showing that giving to others increases happiness, both in the moment, as measured by positive emotions alone, and in terms of overall life satisfaction. subjects randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive emotion—a measure of hedonic happiness—than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when the spending did not build or strengthen social ties.
- Be grateful.
Even if you feel like you don’t have everything you desire in life, still be grateful for what you have. A grateful heart is open to enjoy life more. You don’t need to achieve one more thing for you to be grateful, develop a habit of being grateful. Acknowledge the positive things in your life, celebrate every little victory in your life. Focus on what is write and forget what is wrong for a moment. Happy people choose to focus on the positive aspects of life, rather than the negative. If you can’t be happy with what you have right now, you won’t be happy with what you will get either. The fact that you are not happy has nothing to do with what you have or do not have, the fact that you are not happy is because your life doesn’t match what you think it should be.
For example when I feel sad, I take my laptop or notebook and type in all the positive things in my life, this actually changes my mood and inspires me to be happy.
- Don’t compare your life to anyone’s, you are enough.
Acknowledge who you are and what you have. No matter how poor you think you are or whatever misfortune you think you have, I believe everyone has something to be positive about in their lives. You may not have everything that you need but surely there is no one who can say I have nothing at all, for life in itself is a greater gift than rubies. Appreciate who you are and what you have. Acknowledge others but never wish to be them.
- Live in the moment.
Sometimes a great destroyer of happiness is living in the past or in the future, most of the times these create unnecessary negative feelings within us. Living in the past will cause us regret which actually doesn’t help us in any way but to make us sad. Living in the future makes us anxious over things that are still beyond our reach. Try living in the present moment, savour every minute of it and enjoy it.
- Try engaging in art activities.
This has helped me a lot that’s why I also thought of suggesting it to you. Art is therapeutic, engage in crafting, music, drawing, painting or other art activities. When you become creative your mind gains positive energy and you become happy.
There are two kinds of happiness that have been described. Eudaimonic happiness; that comes from meaningful pursuits and hedonic happiness; that comes from pleasure or fulfilment and I still think that eudaimonic happiness lasts longer and has a more permanent nature than hedonic happiness.
Practicing meaningful pursuits gives us more happiness than seeking pleasure or fulfilment. The Hedonic kind of happiness is what has left our generation more vulnerable and miserable than ever. People move from seeking one kind of pleasure to another, indulging from drugs to sex, thinking that they may be happy but in the end they are not happy but more miserable, empty and disappointed than before. Feelings of loneliness creep in soon after the indulgence and once the pleasure has ended.
I am one person who used to be so unhappy. I was too ambitious and everything that I was doing according to me was not enough. I wanted to reach a certain levels of achievement before I could be happy but guess what? With every level I reached I aspired to reach a higher level than that and still wasn’t happy. I reached greater levels than I had initially assumed but I was never happy. I remember making that, “God if you give me a, b and c I will be happy.” Funny enough, I somehow believed that it was true. But after all my achievements and still being nowhere close to happiness; I realised that happiness has got nothing to do with achievement. Hope is not a remedy to happiness.
I met people who literally had nothing but yet they were so happy and I felt challenged. I went home and asked myself, how can this be so, I have almost everything that I need but still I am not happy, somebody doesn’t have a quarter of what I have but still they are very happy.
If you are one like former me and think you need something to be happy, let me tell you from experience, you are deceiving yourself. Of course, having what you want will give you some kind of attainment feeling but that’s just it, it doesn’t make you happy. You cannot say I am happy because I have a million in my account, ask those who have, they will tell you. Neither can you say I am happy because now I got the degree that I wanted, ask those who have it. Success is very sweet yes and the idea of being successful is very enticing but once you attain that thing that you wanted, it ceases to be enticing to you. Rather seek eudaimonic pursuits and you will find the true meaning of happiness.
I would love to hear from you so please write back to me and if this was helpful to you, kindly share it with someone.