Here’s What You Should Know About Happiness
That will help you live a happier life.
Life is a long journey and my goal for life is simple:
I just want to be happy. Don’t you?
As a geek, I spent a lot of time observing what makes me happy so here’s my take on how happiness works.
How you view control affects happiness
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way — Victor Frankl.
Having a checklist is a big part of my life since I depend on them to keep my days organized. Put it simply, I like my days better when I have control.
I’m happier when my day goes exactly as planned while on the flip side, exhausted if I’m caught in a day full of impromptu tasks.
I soon realized that I wasn’t tired because of how my day unfolded itself. Instead, my happiness was affected by the mindset of trying to control something that’s uncontrollable.
According to Stoicism, there are actually only two things that we can meddle with — our interpretations (thoughts) and reactions (actions) towards an event.
Let’s take my favorite sports game as an example — a basketball game.
Whenever I lose games, I don’t think of it as a failure but as a sign for growth (interpretation). I’d find out what are the areas that I can improve on and work on those (reaction) so that I can perform better next time. This approach makes the game much more enjoyable for me.
The point is, I’m shifting my focus towards the things that are within my control and the rest can take care of themselves.
- Having a morning routine — helps to set a positive mood and gain control for the day.
- Daily reading/listening to podcasts— I like both but for most days, I prefer the latter. It’s a passive activity that I can couple with my day job to increase understanding of the world and ourselves which translates to happiness.
Cut The “I’ll Finally Be Happy When I _____” Crap
“I’ll be happy when I buy a house”;
“I’ll be happy when I own that car”;
“I’ll be happy when I __________”;
Let’s be honest, we tell ourselves these statements without realizing it.
Here I’d like to remind myself and you about the following statement which is even more important:
“Happiness is a habit, not a destination”.
There is nothing wrong with goal-oriented sentences. The problem comes when we are associating happiness with the achievement of the goal.
This is a different way of saying:
“I can ONLY be happy when I achieve X Y Z.”
Here’s the question that we should ask ourself:
So are you going to be any less happy during the journey which is actually the majority part of our lives?
Instead of limiting the happiness towards the end (which might be a long way ahead), why not DECIDE to be happy every day while you’re working towards the goal?
One way to practice being happy for every step you take in the journey is by cultivating gratitude. Appreciating the fact that you’ve come this far while looking forward to the possibilities of life.
Remember to associate happiness with who you are and not only with who you might be.
- Having a gratitude journal helps to remind us to be grateful every day.
- Meditating — Apart from building self-awareness, this is an effective way to train our minds to be in the present moment. Thinking about the past or future is only useful during periodic reviews. Other than that, “being in the present” is the way to go if we want to appreciate life.
Are You Creating or Consuming Happiness?
In this world where dopamine is within a tap’s reach with our smartphones, there are two main channels that you and I generally find happiness:
- Consuming creations by other people
- Creating something for yourself or others
Here’s a quick summary of the differences between the two:
- Examples — Food (in case you’re a foodie), content such as videos and articles on the internet, Korean or any other kind of drama.
- Passive in nature —All these are one tap away with our phones which makes it easily attainable.
- Diminishing returns of joy — I would be super pumped in the beginning. E.g. the first bite of a juicy burger. However, the joy slowly fades away the more I engage in these activities.
- Input — Well we are taking in stuff from others. This helps us to understand the world from others’ points of view since this is other people’s creation that we’re absorbing.
- Examples — Writing an article about happiness, sketching the mountain you’re hiking, shooting a video, baking a cake, etc. Essentially anything that you make.
- Active — YOU have to put in the effort and determination to engage in these activities. It takes a little more time for the creativity to kick in and well, sometimes it just doesn’t wanna happen.
- Consistent returns of joy —Once you’re in the flow state where you’re fully immersed in the project, time flies and you just feel as though there is nothing that can stop you from doing what you’re doing. The joy just keeps getting better.
- Output — You’re creating stuff from your head so this helps both you and others understand the world from your point of view (you’d be surprised how much this helps with self-awareness).
Here’s the deal, both of the methods have their own pros and cons. But the problem nowadays is that you and I are more inclined to consume more than creating stuff simply because… it's simpler.
It’s way easier for me to just chill with Netflix rather than looking at Medium wondering why am I here.
- Cultivate more intention to create stuff — I do this by making “writing 10 minutes” one of my daily tasks and it doesn’t even need to be good. This is just a way to build a habit of creating and to understand ourselves better.
- Consume Intentionally — I still believe there is a place for consuming content — responsibly. Choose the content that helps to shape our thoughts towards the life that we want and not what the advertisers feed you. After all, what we are capable of creating is also a reflection of what we consume.
I believe this is by far one of the most difficult messages that I’ve been wanting to convey to you effectively.
It’s way too easy to be distracted in the world we live in now that worship fame and materialistic wealth.
If you’ve reached this point in the article, I hope you’ve found something valuable and take action, even if it is just a little bit, to change your life for the better.
To end this conversation, here’s a quote from one of my favorite filmmakers:
“Don’t forget to recognize that you have enough and you are enough — Matt D’avella”.
Stay safe and till next time.