First things first. It’s important that we all understand that happiness, or any emotion for that matter, are on-going practices that we are constantly going to be working on over the course of our lives.
When I first started on my self-improvement journey, I was so fixated on this idea of what I thought happiness looked like. I would tell myself that I would only be happy when I had accomplished my goals, when I achieved the success that I had envisioned for myself, or when I was living the lifestyle that I had dreamed of living.
Here are 6 things I wish I knew about happiness before I started my journey:
Happiness isn’t a milestone.
The issue with this mindset is that people change. I am not the same person that I was years ago when I first started out on my journey. I want different things out of my life now than I did when I first started to focus on my overall happiness. And the more that I (or any of us) focus on happiness as an end goal instead of enjoying life for the sole moment in which we are living, the more of our precious life we are simply wasting away.
Happiness isn’t something that should come only once we have achieved certain milestones or accomplishments. Happiness is something that should come from within – something that we should strive for on a daily basis. We shouldn’t wait to feel happiness until a later date in life. We should find happiness in our lives right now because right now is the only time that is certain.
Happiness is an internal job.
The second thing you should know is that you are responsible for your own happiness.
For many years of my life, I had allowed my happiness to depend on somebody else. I allowed others to not only control my life, but I also allowed them to control how I felt about myself as well. If I wasn’t liked by those around me, then I would beat myself up for all of my imperfections. I would listen to the criticism of others, allow their thoughts and opinions to reflect how I felt about myself, and I allowed their approval to determine how I lived my life.
The sad truth is that no matter how hard I tried to be liked by others, I was never able to please everyone. No matter how hard I tried, there were just those who never liked me or accepted me for who I am as an individual.
Everybody has different opinions. The reality of it is that you aren’t going to be liked by everybody around you. In allowing the opinions of others to consume your life and your thoughts, there will come a day where, soon enough, you will realize that you wasted years of your life caring. People are going to often disappoint you, so don’t let them disappoint how you feel about yourself.
Happiness is an internal job. You should be happy on your own terms and on your own will, not based on how others perceive you. The happiness that comes from external sources are simply added bonuses to your happiness, but they should never be your only source of happiness.
Be happy with yourself, with who you already are, and with the life in which you are living. As long as you are, everything else will eventually fall into place.
Happiness is a process.
You are going to have good days, and you are going to have bad days as well. I still have days where I struggle to find things to be happy about. Sometimes it’s just hard to be happy when you can’t focus.
Understand that happiness is an ongoing and continual process. You aren’t going to be happy each and every day. That is totally normal. In fact, you shouldn’t want to only feel happiness in life. If you never experienced any of the bad or negatives in life, you would never know what happiness was to feel like. All of the things that bring happiness to you would just become expected and you probably wouldn’t cherish them as much as you probably should have.
Happiness is about being present.
Those who are the happiest in life are the ones who tend to do a better job of being present in life. This isn’t to say that happy individuals don’t have goals and are content with life how it is, but they realize that this moment in time is the only moment that is certain. Instead of focusing on the future and allowing the uncertainty of the future to consume their present, they focus on being present and cherishing the moment in time for the true blessing that it is.
When I am feeling stressed and down on myself, I tend to realize that it’s because my mind is elsewhere instead of in the present moment. I am either so worried about my future, or I find myself trying to change the past that I forget to live for the moment in which I am in. It isn’t until I force myself to slow down that I am able to find a sense of happiness and gratitude for my life.
Happiness is finding the good in the small things.
Don’t let the little things in life go unnoticed. Don’t take for granted all that you are already blessed with. Take a moment, reflect on your current life and the state in which you are in today, and realize how blessed you truly are.
You have a roof over your head, food in your stomach, access to all the education and knowledge that you could possibly imagine, and the freedom to be whoever you want to be. Unfortunately, all of these things that we are often take for granted, are luxuries to the vast majority of the world’s population.
Don’t become so fixated on only wanting more to the point that you forget to enjoy what you already have. Be grateful for the little things in life and you will feel a sense of happiness in which you never knew existed.
Happiness is a choice.
Despite the many struggles that I have experienced in life such as depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, I will be the first person to tell you that happiness is a choice. You, and only you, are in control of your life and how you perceive the world around you.
You can find happiness in anything, in everything. Every day we all have the choice of living our life to the fullest or allowing the world around us to live it for us, but the choice is ours to make. If you want something that you don’t currently have, then it is up to you to change your ways and do something that you aren’t currently doing – it is up to you to find the happiness in which you desire.
It took me 26 years of life before I truly knew what it felt like to be happy. My hope is that you learn from my mistakes, stop allowing others to live your life for you, and chase the dreams that you have for yourself.
Your life and your happiness; they are yours and yours to create. Own them and make the most of them.