Is Happiness Overated? Why is everyone so concerned about their happiness? How do we inculcate or create happiness in our lives?
Being happy is something we all aspire to be. However, we also know that happiness is not a constant, it is not an emotional state that you can experience throughout your whole life without interuption. If you think about it, the only reason we know we are happy is because we have also experienced sadness. Our emotions are on a scale and can vary throughout our lifetime from mild to extreme. Generally, when people refer to happiness they refer to the transient emotion that is synonymous with joy. As by definition, the emotion is supposed to be impermanent. If you were to constantly 'feel happy', there would be no distinction and in fact, you would merely feel 'average'. Yet, though we know this intuitively we are frustrated and desperate in the absence of a sense of happiness.
Lesson 1: Accept your Emotions
Varied emotions are part and parcel of the human experience; we must embrace every experience and learn from it. Even if it is a negative emotion, we must accept it and learn how to cope positively. This is what makes us wiser, stronger and more resilient. Remember, there are some parts of your life that are not in your control. As such, expecting your life to be filled with only good moments with everything happening the way you planned or hoped, is unrealistic and unhealthy for your emotional wellbeing. Accept that life will have its ups and downs, and be prepared to weather the storm knowing that on the other side there is a rainbow. This is where your positive coping skills will be useful to ensure you dont enter a negative cycle but focus on healthy habits to promote your emotional wellbeing.
Lesson 2: Your choices matter
People often ignore the fact that happiness is a choice to some extent. Of course there are certain life experiences and genetic predispositions that affect our levels of happiness but research has shown that 50% of our happiness depends on our conscious choices that, with time, become enduring habits. You already know there are things you do that are good for you (e.g. exercising, eating healthy, sleeping well, being with friends and family) and things that are bad (e.g. Drinking or smoking excessively, engaging in risky or anti-social behaviours etc.). The important thing to recognise here is that sometimes a behaviour, especially those related to substance abuse may feel like it is making you better but it is only masking/numbing the pain. Overtime, you will become dependent on these substances to cope which can lead to a negative cycle of dependency, shame, and an inability to use positive coping strategies in life. This will result in a sense of helplessness and exacerbate any negative emotions in the long-run.
Lesson 3: Seek out novelty & meaning
Another way to influence your sense of happiness is through fullfillment and accomplishment. This is usually a cognitive evaluation made by yourself on how your life is. If you think about it, most of us complain about our lives but do very little to change. If you don't like what you are doing, who you are associating with, or your environment in general - change it! It really is that simple. You must be willing to do things differently, explore and seek new experiences and opportunities, do things that are meaningful to you and give you direction etc..When you actively seek out things that are different, new and meaningful to you, you will notice the positive effects it has on your overall emotional wellbeing as well as the trajectory of your life.
Lesson 4: Happiness is Subjective
Have you ever met someone who has had a truly tragic life? Yet they seem resilient, they are able to appreciate life and experience moments of joy and happiness. On the flipside, you may have met someone who has had a relatively good life with no significant trauma, loss or bad experiences but yet seems dejected, sad and unable to enjoy life any longer. This is because our emotions are not driven by objective facts. It is not our place to judge. Each persons experience and emotions are valid. It is our perception of our lives that determines how we feel about our lives and ourselves. Recognise your inner voice and your perception - is it an accurate representation of reality ? Is it helpful for your future goals and ambitions? How does it make you feel and as a result what do you do as a result? Ask yourself these questions and reframe if necessary to kinder, more realistic and beneficial thoughts that will improve not only your mood but your lifestyle and habits.
Lesson 5: Small, Simple & Daily
As you can see in the picture below, happiness is a feeling that can be generated by certains habits and activities. This is because these activities activate your brain chemicals responsible for the feeling we refer to as 'Happy'. You would also know intuitively the things you enjoy and that make you happy. Make sure whenever you are feeling low, you seek out people, places or experiences that will enhance your mood and give you the sense of happiness you desire.
Disclaimer: The following information is not a suitable replacement for therapy or professional help. Mental health is very complex and there are various individual differences due to circumstances, genetics and life experience. All information published has been generalised and done in good faith. However, we will not be liable for any actions taken as a result of this website/post. If you are facing mental health concerns, it is important you reach out to a professional. You may also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further support.