Happiness. We all want it, and we all try many different things to acquire it. However, most of us find that happiness is just beyond our grasp. Why is it that some people, seemingly without effort, appear to be filled with the very thing we are trying so hard to attain? What is their secret?
Surprisingly, it’s not so much what they are doing, but rather what they are not doing. When we judge another’s life in comparison to our own, and find ours to be lacking, we are sabotaging our own growth, and therefore, our happiness.
Our thoughts are immensely powerful tools, and they can either benefit us or harm us depending on which one we direct our attention to. This reminds me of the wise Cherokee legend, “The Two Wolves.”
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Achieving happiness requires willful intention to alter one’s thoughts- about ourselves and our environment.
If you really wish for there to be more happiness in your life:
1. Focus on yourself.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing in their life, focus on your own.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with everyone else’s happiness when it is the majority of information displayed on social media. You will often see numerous postings and pictures of cheerful people, in happy relationships, showing off their happy lives. While it’s wonderful to witness another human being having a pleasant life, you must remember the whole story is never projected for public view. Everyone you are comparing yourself to is just as human as you are, and they experience the same ups and downs like anyone else. No one is perfect, and neither are their lives.
Instead of comparing someone’s visible level of happiness to your internal feelings, focus on yourself. Direct your attention to your life, not theirs. Have a goal, and go for it. When we work on improving ourselves, other people’s accomplishments become less relevant.
2. What you think about yourself is more important than what they think about you.
Happy people know that there will always be someone who doesn’t like them, but they don’t let it affect their happiness. They think well-enough of themselves that other people’s opinions hold very little, if any, weight at all. Sure, your socks might not match, but if Johnny tells you how childish he thinks it looks, will you really let that affect your day? Of course not. You hold the key to your happiness- don’t give it away so freely.
3. Decide to be happy with now.
I know this sounds annoyingly simple, but it works.
When we tell ourselves things like, we need to lose 15 more pounds, or need to run 5 seconds faster, we are putting happiness in the “almost” category of our lives. We can almost have it, if we just do this one thing. The truth is, there will always be “one more thing.” If you want to be happy, you need to decide to be happy- with now.
I’m not telling you to accept where you are in life as a permanent residence; being happy has nothing to do with staying stagnant. Rather, accept and understand that you are walking down a path towards growth and you can be just as pleased with the destination as you are with the journey. Take a few minutes to appreciate how far you’ve come, and be thankful for all that you currently have, and all you currently are.
4. Let go of the past.
Every single one of us have gone through some tough times. We’ve made countless mistakes, said hurtful things, and generally had some bad days, but happy people don’t let those past events ruin the present, or the future.
Learn from the lessons that life will inevitably throw your way, and move on from them. Holding onto resentment, bitterness, guilt, or anger is crippling behaviour and can stunt personal growth. If you want happiness in your life, you need to choose how you will handle painful memories of your past. Will you continue to allow them to prohibit you from finding happiness?
5. Remove yourself from toxic situations, and people.
Happy people can be found almost anywhere, but you know where you won’t find them? Amidst the gossipy crowd who are discussing the grooming habits of the new hire, or with anyone who only notices the negative aspects of life. Being surrounded by people who don’t support your growth and self-improvement will effectually impact your life in a negative way.
Who we choose to surround ourselves with can dramatically influence our perspective- for better or worse.
6. Be honest with yourself and others.
Honesty is vital for a healthy relationship, and that includes the relationship we have with ourselves.
Telling the truth can sometimes be difficult, but honesty really is the best policy. Happy people know that there is less weight to carry, less stress, and less turmoil when lying is completely omitted from one’s life. Be honest with your friends, and most importantly, be honest with yourself. You are free to make your own decisions, follow your own mantra, and stand-up for what you believe in.
Personally, I believe happiness to be a state of mind. When you choose to see everything as a gift, in a positive light, you have no choice but to be happy. Everything can be good, even the bad things, if we accept them, learn from them, and let go.
By Raven Fon