e all know that feeling of contentment and joy. Life is going great, everything’s fine, and we can’t help but smile. Happiness is the most enjoyable part of living. And without a doubt, the most sought-after mental state by every human on this planet.
LEVEL 1 - based on facts and science
The Pursuit of Happiness
Naturally, we all want to be happy, and most of us have based our lives on this pursuit of happiness.
“I’ll be happy when I’m rich, when I win a lottery, when I buy a new car, when I become a successful businessman, when I have my own big house, when I marry my desired partner” … and the list goes on. Our jobs, our relationships, our aims in life — whatever we do — we do it for happiness.
And most of us even succeed in getting these things. But there’s a problem.
The new sports car doesn’t feel that good after a few months. You have your own house, and you’re finally rich, but still, after some time, you don’t feel as excited as you once did. After six months of getting married, you get into an argument, and the relationship doesn’t spark the same joy as it once did.
You find that these moments came into your life, lasted for a few days or months, and then, they’re gone. What could have gone wrong?
You did everything right and finally got what you wanted, but why aren’t you happy?
Maybe the answer is. You were looking for happiness in the wrong places.
What is true happiness?
It’s hard for us to be happy if we don’t exactly know what true happiness is.
Happiness is often confused with pleasure. Pleasure is a fleeting feeling. It’s a satiable emotion, meaning when you are full, it’s gone.
In our search for happiness, we instead focus on pleasure instead of inner contentment. And when we get it, we feel fulfilled for some time, but when we’re full of it, it goes away. You’re back to feeling unsatisfied. This circle keeps going on and on, and you find yourself wanting more and more.
True happiness is the happiness that is inside of you. It’s a much deeper feeling. For true happiness, you don’t need to rely on external resources or pleasure. It is the state of enjoying your own company and being in love with yourself, no matter how outside circumstances are.
The good thing about true happiness is that it’s lasting and it doesn’t vanish after some time. It’s a state of inner joy, strength, courage, and peace.
So, what can we do for true happiness? For us to be truly happy, we have to look at the mental traps we put ourselves in, and how understanding and correcting your thinking can lead to a consistently happier life.
The Trap of Materialism
Materials are widely considered essential for prosperity and happiness. We are told that we have to be rich, handsome, famous, and admired by the masses to be happy. So, we find ourselves in a rat race to accumulate more and more.
“Only if I had this instead of this, life would have been much happier.” It would have been great if there was a final thing that could make us eternally happy, but unfortunately, there isn’t.
Why is materialism so bad?
In today’s society, it is impossible not to have materialistic tendencies. We are programmed from a very young age through media, advertisements, and our social standards to run after external things for happiness and approval. It becomes so ingrained in our personality that we only judge each other’s success based on the number and quality of possessions they have. So, it becomes natural for us to run after these possessions as well.
However, if we want to learn how to be happier, we have to change our way of thinking.
In reality, materialism only makes our lives more miserable. You’re always on the run for more and more, and there’s never an ending point. More money, more social media followers, more fame, and it keeps going without any conclusion.
Being materialistic makes us less grateful. You are never satisfied. Not only your life, but your relationships also don’t feel that good. You become more antisocial and feel less competent. It makes you less grateful, anxious, depressed, narcissistic, less likable, and less happy in general.
There is no doubt that the materials things and money bring us lots of joy. After all, we do need some fame, money, and social status to live comfortable lives. It’s not that we should completely eliminate the desire for material things from our life. Materialistic possessions are fine. It’s just that materialism should never be our final answer.
How to be Happier?
First, we have to understand and correct our flawed thinking. We feel that our desires for contentment and inner peace will be met only once we’re rich or famous etc. But it’s not correct. We have to break the cycle and stop running after superficial goals.
Skip the materialistic part and start working directly on your happiness. But how can we do this?
For us to be truly happy, we have to focus on things that really matter and make a lasting impact. Let’s take a look at how to pursue happiness the right way.
The importance of gratitude
Practicing gratitude is the perfect counterbalance to materialism. As one goes up, the other goes down. Gratitude is among the best forms of positive psychology to feel fulfilled, content, and happy with your life. A wealth of research has been put into the benefits of gratitude and how it is perhaps the most powerful catalyst for happiness.
Gratitude means acknowledging and appreciating all the great things in life that you already possess. Instead of taking things for granted, you savor your blessings and thoroughly enjoy them. You don’t focus on future events that might happen. Instead, you start enjoying all the great things that are already happening. With time and practice, you start feeling more happy with what you have instead of wanting more.
When you practice gratitude, you start noticing all the good things in life that you were previously ignoring. You find out that your life is not actually that bad. You feel happier and less depressed. You understand that you can also live a great life with your current things, so you don’t start the endless circle of materialism again. You make better decisions and start working on something that actually matters in life.
Similarly, when you appreciate others for who they are and what they have done for you, you become a more compassionate, helpful, and kind person. People start liking you, and it improves your relationships. You become aware of your flaws and how you don’t need to hoard things to feel happy. You start a positive feedback loop that only increases your happiness with time.
Rather invest in Experiences.
Look back a few months and think about the good things you remember. What was it? It won’t probably be you working hard for more. Rather, it will be the good experiences you’ve had, such as a trip with your friends and the time you helped someone or any other awesome thing you did that made you feel more alive.
You have to understand that possessions don’t make a meaningful impact as much as experiences do. Positive and memorable experiences are much much more valuable than stuff. Consider buying experiences rather than possessions. Go on trips with your friends or family. Go hiking or mountain climbing. Join a cooking class or learn a new language. Do memorable and impactful things that add to your positive experiences.
Spend more time with the people you love. Being social and investing in experience and relationships does not mean that you should stop working on your goals and personal development. It means you should find a balance between things and focus more on what will matter in the end. It’s the little things in life that count.
On your deathbed, you won’t remember all the fun you had with your new Lamborghini. In the end, you will instead remember all the great things you experienced with your friends and family and how happy it made you feel.
Happiness is what makes our life worth living, we all want it, but it’s our flawed approaches that keep us from being truly happy. We are often so focused on the external circumstances that we completely ignore the internal happiness and, as a result, find ourselves running in a loop that leads nowhere. It’s not about looking good. It’s about feeling good.
If we want to learn how to be happier, we need to counterbalance our materialistic tendencies and start focusing on what truly matters in life. Start making decisions according to your values, look at all the good in life you’re ignoring and start appreciating the relationships and blessings you’ve been given. Create a balance between your social life, career, hobbies, and personal growth. You will find that being happy is not about having lots of things. Being content with what you have and investing in experiences will give more meaning to your life and give you true happiness that lasts.