If there is anything more sought after in the world, it must be happiness. Everyone wants it, but it seems to be the most elusive thing in the world. And it’s not from the lack of trying. If anything, our whole existence is heavily ruled by the desire to have happiness in our lives.
Yet, a lot of us are unhappy.
Because we don’t understand it. We’re running around like headless chickens trying to find the answer. We’re definitely trying, but none of the effort seem to be working and it’s all because we’re approaching the whole endeavour wrongly.
Now, you might be wondering why you should be listening to me. Maybe you shouldn’t, but as a person with bipolar type 2 disorder (the one where you’re more likely to be depressed), I have successfully found stable happiness in life.
And if someone like me, that’s genetically programmed to not be happy can find happiness, well, I think I can help you find your own happiness as well.
What is happiness?
You need to know what it is, if you stand a chance in finding it.
The way we talk about happiness influences your understanding of it and society seems to treat happiness as a static state you can be. A destination you can reach. A result.
It’s not. Happiness is an emotion like every other, and so it behaves like any other emotion.
It’s fleeting. It comes and it goes.
But even then it’s not 100% accurate because we’re not talking about feeling happy. We’re talking about being happy.
To be happy doesn’t mean you no longer feel negative emotions in life. Far from it, if anything it means you’re capable of feeling a wider range of emotions while having the confidence in yourself to know you will overcome it and be happy once more.
Happiness is from unshakable self-confidence and having personal liberty.
Happiness is the freedom to do what you want as well as having the confidence in yourself to take advantage of this freedom. And if you take the time to think about this short but precise statement, you will understand why happiness seems to be so elusive.
Self-confidence isn’t very easy to nurture or have in all areas of life, and personal liberty seems to be at an all time low, not because we have masters and lords, but because we have jobs and bills.
How to gain self-confidence
Self-confidence is developed over time as you gain a more and more accurate understanding of your own capabilities. But this doesn’t mean you just wait until time passes by and confidence will naturally accumulate.
You need to proactively test your capabilities to gain that understanding. It’s why a common piece of advice people give is to “do something that scares you everyday”. This isn’t for the adrenaline rush. It’s not because facing fears give you confidence.
It’s because doing things that scare you also inevitably pushes you to do new things and test your abilities. Every time you go through something, the result, no matter good or bad will let you understand yourself better.
Over time, you don’t need to wait until the final result to know what the result will be. You can confidently guess it. Walk into any situation and be confident about what you can do and what you cannot do.
This is self confidence.
How to gain personal liberty
This one is a little more tricky because there are real work restrictions and limitations we all live by. And that’s money and time. If we had an infinite amount of time and money we would have all the freedom in the world.
But there’s also a funny paradox. If we had all the time and money in the world to do whatever we wanted, what we wanted would instantly not give us much happiness.
So happiness isn’t having the freedom to do whatever we want. It’s to have the opportunity to do whatever we want.
The chance. (The movie wasn’t called The Pursuit of Happiness for nothing guys…)
And the key to giving yourself the opportunity to pursue happiness is to have enough time and enough money. Personally, I translate that to having passive income, which instantly frees up your time and provides you with enough financial security.
If you would like to learn more about passive income, you can read this post I wrote on the matter.
Short-term solutions to find happiness
I know all the above aren’t instant or even fast, so here are some solutions to be happier in the next 90 days.
Exercise has been proven time and time again to lift our moods because of the hormonal release that occurs during exercise. Our bodies release a hormone called endorphins. A.K.A the happy hormone. It’s so effective, exercise is prescribed to people suffering from depression.
Exercising just a few minutes every day is enough to benefit from this body hack. But of course, if you’re going to exercise then you might as well get the recommended dose. (30 minutes of high level activity everyday)
Meditation is also another scientifically proven way to increase your overall happiness in life. Meditation can be both secular or religious, but all forms of meditation has been shown to literally rewire your brain to be more happy.
The core principle is to attempt to clear your mind of any thoughts, be present in the moment and “slow down”. There are many techniques, some are more abstract and others have clear instructions you can follow. A great way to practice meditation as a complete beginner is to practice breathing exercises.
A few minutes, or even 1 minute is enough to start feeling the effects.
No act is a selfless act. No matter how good it is, and that includes giving back to your community. Helping others around you can make you feel needed and this in itself is a quick and easy way to build self-confidence. It also goes hand in hand with a quintessential truth about life.
“The more you give the more you receive”.
The more you help others, the more happiness you receive back. And the happiness isn’t from those that benefit from your help, the happiness if from yourself. Make yourself available to your friends and family more, so you can help them out with tasks or issues. Sign up to volunteer at NGOs within your neighbourhood to contribute back to society.
A real reason why helping others makes us feel happy is because it teaches us gratitude about our own privileges. It also teaches us how happiness and sadness is relative.
Prioritise your relationships
The last quick tip is to not put your relationships second and your work first. It sounds obvious but many people unfortunately act like our family and friends can wait while our work cannot, and that’s not true.
Putting less time into your relationships can make us feel disconnected with humanity. And unless you’re a hermit, that’s a recipe for loneliness and depression. (…even for the introverts at heart)
Schedule time to meet up with parents, spend time with your family and catch up with friends. Spending quality time with others will help you feel a sense of belonging which gives you assurance in your life.
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