“I just want to be happy.”
Don’t we all.
I don’t know about you, but most things suck the joy right out of my life each day.
But what does happiness truly mean? Does it mean a life free of challenges, hardships, and troubles? Does it mean living in denial, pretending stress and turmoil don’t exist, burying our heads in the sand while pretending we are invincible?
According to verywellmind.com, happiness is summarized as an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment. And although it has many varied definitions, it is often described as involving positive emotions.
Happiness is linked to experiencing more positive feelings than negative.
So why is it that we strive for happiness, searching for it with such vigor and determination?
For some, it is sought through spiritualistic pursuits and creative ventures. For others, it is sought through relationships, seeking love and acceptance with near desperation and the high risk that comes along with putting our self-worth in the hands of others. Then there are those who seek happiness through tangible goods, from the latest beauty products to trendy fashion in an attempt to appear, well, happy.
When the above fail to fulfill, an emptiness consumes us and happiness is the furthest thing from our mind. We may sink into the depths of hell, lonely and miserable, wondering why other people are happy and we are not.
Next we aim to fill the void and when not done constructively, we can end up living in the world of depression and addiction—overspending, overeating, smoking, drinking, drugging, or gambling, to list just a few.
Then what happens?
We become the polar opposite of happy. We grow miserable, lost, and confused. Despair becomes our existence, and hope is buried under the demons that possess our very souls.
Happiness is not a destination, nor is it a constant emotional state. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows. We are complex. We are human beings fraught with feelings, emotions, and moods—and they’re not all good or positive. The only constant is change, and if we want to be happy, the first step is accepting that fact then embracing it.
Happiness is something we bring into our lives. We can create it, attract it, and ensure it finds us because we control it. Our happiness is up to us. It is not what happens to us. It is not a life without pain and hurt. It is not up to the people we are involved with or our day job or social status.
It is something we make, cultivate, and nurture.
So how can you bring happiness into your life rather than only using it as a buzzword?
Here are six ways to rethink happiness and apply to your daily existence.
We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our reaction to it. We’ve all heard that saying and most of us try—and fail—then try again. Life is hard. It hurts us, challenges us, and will definitely try to break our spirits. But we don’t have to let it. We can reframe our thoughts and rather than focus on our bad luck, horrible circumstances, and hardships, ask what this is trying to teach us.
What lessons are being taught? How can this experience aid us in the future? Can we derive strength—or will we allow it to crush us? This is up to us.
How will you spend your time and who will you spend it with? We may not like our day jobs, but we can create our personal world. It doesn’t require money. It can be as simple as taking long walks or visiting the ocean or mountains. It can be sitting on a bench and watching the world go by. It can be visiting a drugstore and reading all the funny cards to bring a smile to your face and laughter to your soul—a personal favorite of mine when a day’s been particularly rough.
Pursue activities that will bring joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment—no matter how big or small.
Find your passion. What excites you? What drives you? Planting a garden. Bird-watching. Writing, music, reading, learning. What can you do to bring joy to your day? Find it, then do it. And if you don’t find it right away, keep trying. As a recovering serial hobbyist, everything you try will add to your knowledge base; maybe add a new skill or two or, at minimum, teach yourself what you don’t like so you can free up time to focus on finding what you do.
Find your sense of purpose. What propels you out of bed each morning? Is it the smell of coffee brewing? Then why not have some fun with it? When you think there’s no sense of purpose in your life, get one and live for it each day. It doesn’t have to be gallant or worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. It can be as simple and pleasurable as learning something new.
That aromatic coffee? Read some books or do some online searching and dive into the world of coffees from around the world. With so much to learn, you will surely find some purpose in expanding your mind with this wealth of knowledge that awaits you.
Choose wisely. We’ve all been betrayed, conned, and hurt. We’ve trusted those who hadn’t earned it and believed in those who proved to be frauds. This is a byproduct of living. It doesn’t mean that you have to shut out the world (unless you want to as an introvert who finds solitude the greatest treasure of all), but rather, be mindful of those who enter your life. Choose people who will lighten the load, make your heart happy, and who might help you grow as a person.
Learn how to tell people to piss off. Of course it does not have to be literal, unless that is really what you need to do, but remember that you don’t owe anything to anyone. This doesn’t make you a selfish or a terrible person. Sometimes it’s self-preservation and necessary for your sanity. If someone is negative toward you, holding you down, causing you drama or upset, and draining you of energy and peace—walk away.
You are not obligated to help abusive, angry, needy or toxic people. You don’t have to own their problems.
Your life, your rules, and your boundaries. Just remember, people like that can piss off so they don’t suck the joy out of your life.