Don’t Worry. Be Happy.
The quest for happiness dogs many of us. We read books and blogs, take pills, do yoga, and drink alcohol, all in an attempt to reach that elusive state of contentment that we label as “happiness”. But happiness is fleeting, and you can’t force yourself to be happy. Is it futile to pursue happiness?
Yes (and no). Yes, if you fixate on the concept of happiness as a destination or an end-result. You will almost certainly be unhappy if you approach life this way. It is not futile to pursue happiness, however, if you do it in a more roundabout way. That is, you can seek out and pursue habits, activities, and values that lead you to happiness more often. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a well-lived life.
Here are some more tips:
Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel happy 100% of the time. Negative emotions are a normal and necessary part of life. Negative emotions or moods are healthy in moderation and are actually quite essential, because they spur us to action. Without healthy self-criticism, for example, we would never improve ourselves. These states are temporary, which is important to remember the next time you are in a funk.
Practice acceptance. Sometimes, you can’t change a situation, no matter how much you’d like to. Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Re-frame the situation in a way that helps you grow. If your boss is overbearing and obnoxious, for example, chances are that you can’t change his or her behavior. You can, however, use it as an opportunity for personal growth: you can learn to deal with hostile or difficult personalities while maintaining composure and practicing patience.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. This is a tough one, because life is harsh sometimes. Don’t let defensiveness or fear keep you from living the life you want to have. Love with your whole heart. Trust yourself and others. Have big, intimidating life goals – and go after them without holding back. Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Take risks.
Take 100% responsibility for your life. Happiness takes hard work and persistent effort. Do what you really, really want to do. If it’s important to you, make time for it, not excuses.
Practice gratitude. Make sure you take time everyday to think about everything that is great about your life. If that feels intimidating, try to think of one thing that happened throughout the day that made you feel happy. It could be as simple as having a cheerful interaction with a cashier, or noticing that your spouse unloaded the dishwasher. Grateful people are happier people.
© Copyright 2014
All rights reserved