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I Think We Still Don't Understand Happiness

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How to Be Happy?

A simple Google search for how to be happy yields me 175,000,000 results in a mere 0.53 seconds.

I’m convinced this is searched online every moment of every day. We are obsessed with being happy, finding inner peace, maximizing the day, embracing YOLO. We want happy, and we want it wrapped in the prettiest, neatest box with a bright, pink bow.

With that, we want magical elixirs. We want to know how to be happy in a one-size-fits-all answer. This isn’t surprising. Life is difficult and painful, full of complex obstacles and hardships. Instant gratification feels enticing.

But, we also need to talk about the nature of happiness for a moment.

Happiness Is an Emotion

That means, by nature, it’s fleeting. It doesn’t last forever because it’s not meant to last forever.

Anyone who is always happy is either lying to themselves or to others or in a complete sense of delusion. Happy is not the same as grateful. Grateful is not the same as happy. We often confuse these terms.

Ever meet those beautiful people who just exude a zen-like aura? They seemingly handle the world’s issues with grace and dignity. Maybe you think they feel happiness at deeper levels than you do. I would argue they experience the same spectrum of emotions all humans feel. They also know how to put life into perspective, practice gratitude, and honor acceptance.

When we can accept a situation for what it is, without preconceived judgments or expectations, we can experience a sense of peace. Is peace the same as happiness? Not necessarily. But, if you are searching for how to be happy, look for ways to feel peace. You will find that the two merge seamlessly.

Focus Small

In a buzzing world laden with lavish social media feeds and larger-than-life definitions of happiness, this may sound counterintuitive. Media and consumerism have perhaps conditioned us to believe that happiness, real happiness, occurs in its highest form in those once-in-a-lifetime milestones.I’ll give you this.

Psychologists believe that we each have set points of happiness. This means we move back to a general mood homeostasis once our pendulum swings after extreme events (such as the euphoria experienced at your wedding or the grief experienced during death).

This means, despite the huge, life-changing moments, our moods generally stabilize back to a fixed point.What’s the takeaway here? Focus on what’s sustainable, not what’s fleeting. Focus on the joy that can be cultivated continuously, not just reminisced fondly.

Target maximizing your middle-of-the-week Wednesday routine, instead of just enjoying those carefree Saturdays without responsibilities. Devour gratitude like it’s the sweetest and rarest fruit like it’s the most precious, nourishing food for your soul. Find the willingness to relish in this radical thought- the best is always, always yet to come, no matter what, where, or how.

Money is Just a Vehicle

“Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.”-Kanye West

Most of us have to generate income in order to survive. Unfortunately, many of us also obsess over the almighty dollar and what it could represent for our lifestyle. Cliched or not, this chase towards paper wealth is not an optimal method if you want to know how to be happy.

Think about it this way: money represents a vehicle taking you to the places you want to go, the experiences you want to have, and the things you want to own.

Money itself is neutral, and money alone cannot bring happiness. Money can bring you towards greater happiness, but if you don’t know what you need or want, you’ll be constantly running on a hamster wheel of disappointed hedonism, chasing to fill a void that you may not even know is there. I promise this will happen even if you win the lottery.

So, be honest with yourself. What matters to you? What’s on your bucket list?

Stop comparing your needs and wants to others, stop obsessing over what will look best on social media, and think about it this way: what kind of life do you want to live? If you truly know that answer, in the depths of your heart and soul, you can direct your money to do just that.

Find Passion. It Doesn’t Matter What It Is.

Think about the last times you felt happy. What were you doing?

So much of happiness represents action: it’s about doing something (as opposed to just being somewhere or having something).

I’ll tell you some of mine: Laughing over the stupidest inside jokes with my husband. Rock climbing. Reading a really good book. Swimming in the ocean. Climbing an incredibly rigorous mountain.

Passion awakens our sense of flow (being totally absorbed in the present moment), and flow helps us to be happy.

Because you feel consumed by the task at hand, your mind feels sharp, awake, and focused. There is no room to ponder yesterday’s mistakes or tomorrow’s fears. You are just with the moment, present and mindful. Passion represents part of the overall happiness recipe. Passion colors the world; without it, life just feels dull.

But, if you don’t think you have time for hobbies or entertainment, then you probably don’t have time to be happy, either.

Take Care of Future Self, Too!

When people focus on maximizing pleasure and living in the present moment, they may quickly neglect the importance of planning and organizing. After all, you can’t control the future, right? Happiness only happens right now, right? True. Sort of.

But, we still owe it to our future selves to be kind, compassionate, and attentive. We should still pay our bills and brush our teeth because, even if it doesn’t bring total joy in the current moment, not doing those tasks has greater odds of bringing unhappiness in the imminent future than happiness.

Balance plays a critical part here. The magic in how to be happy doesn’t just lie in losing ourselves in today’s moment. It lies in experiencing peace and acceptance for where we are and who we are, while also consciously moving into the versions we want to be.

Find What Works For You

How to be happy? These are just my thoughts.

And, while Google may have more answers than we’ll ever have the time to read, it’s always going to be up to you to find what works.

So, make it your life mission. Run your own trials. Assess your own feelings. Edit as needed. After all, what else are you living for?

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