I want to be Happy Forever
Is a phrase I have heard uttered many times throughout my life by both close friends and acquaintances.
I find these words are often said in a defeated tone of voice. As if happiness lies just beyond their reach. Perhaps the truth is that they have simply no idea how to be happy.
In my 20’s I told myself phrases that all looked a little like —
If I achieve x, then I will be happy
For example, ‘If I get this job, then I will be so much happier!’. Yet, this never really materialized the way I envisioned. In my 20’s I secured a job in my area of specialization and relocated to the city of Dublin which us country bumpkins refer to as The Big Smoke. I viewed moving to the big city as a stepping stone to a successful life and a sign that I was moving in the right direction.
However, securing the job and moving to the big city did not result in a feeling of fulfillment or happiness.
Although I loved my job, I disliked living in a city far away from nature and the countryside I was used to. Despite the fact that I was surrounded by people I also felt a bit lonely. It took a consistent sustained effort to form new friendships and meet new people. It is difficult and a little bit scary to move to a new city on my own. Although on the outside it can appear that my life is a success. It can feel very different on the inside.
What little steps did I take to become a happier person?
Step 01: I changed my focus
I slowly began to learn that circumstances would never make me happy. Thinking in terms of
‘If I achieve x, then I will be happy’
is a flawed way of thinking and a recipe for unhappiness. I knew that if I continued to focus on the end destination I would never really be happy. My focus should be on the journey itself rather than where I end up.
Step 02: I lowered my expectations
This may sound quite negative but it really helped me become a happier human.
I have no idea how things are ever going to work out. No one does. However, if I have a perception in my head of how I believe they should work out and the reality does not match up with this perceived notion, it can lead to disappointment.
I learned to accept the outcome as it unfolds. For example if I go out partying with friends and anticipate in my mind that it is going to be the ‘best night ever!’. Chances are that it will not quite live up to my expectations. If I go on a night out with friends and simply enjoy the night for what it is, I find it is much more enjoyable.
This does not mean that I go with the flow all the time. If I have a goal or something I wish to achieve, then I work incredibly hard to make this a reality.
Yet, I accept that there are many situations I cannot control. The more I try to exert control over these, the less happiness that is created.
Step 03: I enjoy the little joyous moment in my day
It can be easy to get caught up in the business of life and forget all the little joyous moments we can pause and enjoy.
I love the feeling of sunshine on my face. I always close my eyes and savor the moment.
I love taking time to sit and observe nature. In nature, everything works in perfect harmony, is effortless and makes sense. It is utterly fascinating and a joy to watch.
If I am eating, by I try to focusing solely on just that. I find I derive much more pleasure from eating when I do this and feel grateful to have such delicious food. If I choose to watch tv while I eat I find it distracting and detracts from the experience.
These are just three simple steps which I have found equipped me with the means to be happier. They can be done anywhere and at any time.
There are of course endless way in which I can bring more joy into my day yet these little subtle shifts in how I think have helped me become a happier human.