Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries in life is the act of finding happiness. To many, happiness can seem like a far off concept. Perhaps you find happiness in travelling, but you travel infrequently. Or maybe you take joy in helping others, but maybe that happiness comes from other people's joy, and not your own.
To many, happiness is often something ephemeral. Happiness comes in short, infrequent bursts, existing for a while and fading away into treasured memories. These moments are the bright spots in our lives that punctuate a sea of unending responsibilities and darkness.
Maybe that's why we treasure those brief moments of happiness so much.
In our guide to investing, we expound that the end goal of investing is to achieve financial freedom - giving you the financial means to do whatever you want to do. And the end goal of that is ultimately your happiness.
Our goals for this blog is similar. We want to share our thoughts on investing financially, but also investing in yourself. To become the best person that you can be - financially and emotionally. To find happiness.
If you're a little sad, a little lost, or a little depressed, these writings are for you. These are a collection of our thoughts and ruminations of searching for that happiness, and we hope that it helps you find yours too.
Chapters in this guide:
Part 1 - Finding Happiness
Part 2 - The Meaning Of Life
Part 3 - The Most Important Thing In Life
Part 4 - How To Become Wealthy
Part 5 - Learning To Love
Part 6 - Know Yourself First
In this first part, we will examine what is happiness and our end goals of rediscovering and finding happiness.
The cold dark world
To begin our journey in discovering happiness, let us first start from the beginning. Perhaps, when we were young, we had grand dreams. In fact, 29% of kids want to become a Youtuber, and 11% want to become an astronaut.
Yet slowly, as we grew older, the reality of the world has hit us like a brick. Responsibilities started piling up. Maybe we needed money. Maybe we had to fulfill education requirements in order to find a job to support ourselves.
Slowly yet surely, the world and society told us that we had to give up these dreams for other, more pressing matters. And most of us did. We let go of our hopeless ambitions and reached out for the more rational and realistic ones.
This was pragmatic. After all, this was the cumulative wisdom from previous generations. Go to college, get a job. Make money.
There's no problem in that. After all, we all have to survive in this society.
Yet, in the process, we have come to regard the world as a cold, dark place. As our values shift from idealism to realism, we begin to view the world as being a place where everything is out to get us.
We became guarded, more closed. We don't trust easily. If you've been through an education system and transitioned to the working world, you might have noticed this as a result as well.
Speaking generally, as kids, we were young and carefree. We were... immune, in a sense, to the darkness of the world. We played. We had fun. As a kid, I remembered more days of happiness than sadness in my life.
Of course, this is speaking generally. Not everyone was privileged enough to have a childhood like that. But we'll get there in time.
As we grew up, things started changing. We looked at benefits more than we looked at friendship. We started thinking about jobs and our future. Conversations turned into more pragmatic things like what job are you looking for? Have you found a job yet? What are your grades like? Have you gotten a significant other?
Things turned superficial - we were always talking about our future, we neglected the present. Maybe that's why we value deep conversations so much. Things like your fears, your troubles and your insecurities. It's difficult to share things like that these days with others.
This reminds me of the dark forest theory applied to our society. Essentially, it states that we are always unaware of the intentions of others. As such, we become guarded to protect ourselves.
We begin to view the world as a dark forest, filled with "hunters" that are seeking benefits for their own selves. Exposing weakness means that one would be swiftly taken advantage of or harmed to a certain extent, so everyone keeps to themselves.
Due to this potential of conflict that always looms over everyone, there is no chance of working together. Everyone remains guarded and closed off, and even though we are all afraid, scared and lost, there is no progress.
Well, how does this relate to happiness?
Happiness is not a solo effort
Perhaps you have been jealous of other people happiness. Maybe you've asked yourself questions like "Why can't I be happy too?" or "I wish I was as happy as that person".
To that, I would say that if you're feeling sad, you should try to ignore social media. After all, what we see online is what other people want us to see. In the dark forest theory, it would be like the facade to hide the cracks beneath the surface.
The truth is, everyone has their own struggles. Everyone faces some form of problem or issue in their lives. And there's no way someone can say "my problem is worse than yours". It's all relative. A small problem for you could be a huge problem for someone else.
Again, using the dark forest theory, it would be that everyone in the world are going through their own struggles, feeling lost and confused, but because of the mistrust, no one is helping one another.
The most important point about happiness is that we cannot close ourselves off to society. For someone in depression, this can be an extremely painful point to realize. This society, the one most capable of hurting you, is also the one most capable of helping you.
We must not let past experiences of being hurt stop us from reaching out. If you close yourself off and not allow anyone in, then we will always be fighting for our own happiness alone.
Conversely, if you open yourself up, while you receive the chances of being hurt further, you also let yourself have the hope of getting help from others. A sadness that cannot be managed alone can be managed together.
Happiness is not a solo effort.
In the dark forest, a singular hunter might never find his or her way out alone. But if the hunter lights a torch, alerting other hunters nearby, while it may open them up for attacks, it also gives a them a hope of forming a team of hunters.
This team, lighting up its torches, attracts more hunters together, scaring away those with ulterior motives and forming a band of hunters. Together, they can light up the way and have a higher chance of finding a way out of the forest.
The good news is that in society, there are more good people than bad people. We know this because otherwise, society would have collapsed by now. The fact that we can have order amidst chaos is a testament to this fact.
So don't be afraid to open yourself to society. Do not close yourself off.
It's painful to go through sadness alone. We all need help. However, we cannot expect to keep receiving help but give none in return.
Even if you find a saint who helps you without question, if you keep asking for help and giving none in return, even the most virtuous saint would have to let you go.
Help others, and let others help you. Build up a team of hunters who will light their torches together. Happiness is not a solo effort. Make an effort to reach out.
That is the first important point about happiness that we have to realize.
Happiness is ultimately your own
While happiness is not a solo effort, the happiness you feel is ultimately your own. Sure, you can derive happiness from others, such as getting a significant other to support you, but you'll never be truly happy if the happiness doesn't stem from your own self.
Are you happy with yourself right now? If left alone, can you be happy? This is probably the end goal of happiness - discovering your self-happiness.
You shouldn't need to rely on other people or objects to be happy. Yes, happiness is not a solo effort, but ultimately, we want to discover our own happiness.
One that doesn't rely on anyone else. One that we can keep with us throughout our lives, no matter what paths merge or diverge from our own.
Only then can we truly tell ourselves that we can be happy on our own.
This happiness goes deeper than other kinds of happiness. It isn't the happiness that comes from helping others, or the happiness from eating something delicious, or travelling someplace nice. That is external happiness - the kind that gets you through a bad day or the kind you reminiscence about in nostalgia.
No. Self-happiness is a level deeper than that happiness. It is an internal happiness stemming from being confident in yourself. Being confident in who you are - your body, your beliefs, your morals and your actions.
It is a happiness that comes from your soul, the kind that isn't arrogance, but self-appreciation. It is the audience that claps for your own efforts, failure or success, and the kind that pats your back and says "good job". It is an audience from you, for you.
This kind of happiness stems from knowing who you are and what you stand for. It is knowing that even if the world is a cold dark place, you can walk through it with your head held high.
It comes from appreciating your own self. This kind of happiness is the most difficult to achieve as we are battered by society - but it is our end goal. And the road to this happiness doesn't have to be a solo effort.
This is the second important point about happiness. Ultimately, you must be happy with yourself and by yourself.
Consistency and hope
The third point about happiness is perhaps the most difficult to uphold. It's about consistency and hope.
If you are trapped in sadness, then the only thing keeping you going is hope. And the only way of reaching happiness is consistency.
We have to be consistent in working towards our happiness, and hold on to a hope that tomorrow can be a better day.
It can be extremely difficult staying consistent in the face of adversity. It is even harder when we cannot see the end result in front of us. It's like climbing a staircase with no end in sight. That is why we need hope.
Hope tells us that at the top of that staircase, there is something better. A better life, and a happier life. But to reach there, you need to climb up an unknown number of steps. To reach there, you need consistency.
These two go hand in hand, each supporting the other. Give up one, and the other is hard to maintain.
If you give up on your consistency, it's like exercising for a day and then stopping for a long time. You will never reach your goal. At some point, your hope will begin to fizzle out.
If you give up hope, then you won't have the motivation to continue. You will slump down on that cold staircase, and remain wallowing in the depths of your despair forever. Your will to be consistent will be eroded.
This is the third point we must keep in mind in our journey towards finding our happiness. Consistency, and hope.
Back to the beginning
By now, we have introduced three basic concepts to keep in mind as you continue this guide.
- Happiness is not a solo effort
- Our end goal is self-happiness
- We must strive to have consistency and hope
At this point, you might be wondering what back to the beginning means. Remember how we mentioned at the start we were born happy? All babies are born without being tainted by the world.
The idealism in our childhood was slowly eroded by the realities of life and have been washed away by the darkness. But they do not have to be.
As we mentioned, our end goal is self-happiness - it is a happiness that comes from yourself and knowing what you want and working towards it.
To find our happiness, we have to first rediscover ourselves. Who were we when we were happy? Who were we, when we were enjoying the sunset wholeheartedly without thinking about the responsibilities of a new day?
That is the person who we should be striving to be for our own happiness.
For some, this person might not even be during your childhood. It could be a person before an event occurred or a person before the death of a loved one. It could be a person with dreams before reality told you to focus on more pragmatic things.
For these people, we are striving to rediscover the part of themselves that they lost. The wonder and joy that gave them purpose.
For others, they may feel that they have never been happy their entire life. For these people, it is a process of discovering happiness, instead of rediscovering happiness.
We must strive to find out what we want in life and what we are trying to make out of it. We must learn what we need to make ourselves happy.
After this process of introspection and discovery, this will become the hope that we look forward to. A life where we work towards the things that we want to do and a life where we are happy.
Then, it will be a long process of consistency, working towards this life while seeking help and helping others along this arduous journey.
Therefore, it is this first step towards discovering or rediscovering what makes us happy that our journey towards happiness starts with.
Our dreams may often seem unrealistic. It is the reason why most of us focus on more realistic things.
And that's okay. After all, doing realistic things is a result of pragmatism to survive. What is not okay is giving up on those unrealistic dreams. The ones that make us happy.
A happy life involves working towards the things you believe in, with the people you love, with the money you need to sustain a worry free life while in good health.
You should never give up on your idealism just because you have been forced by pragmatism. Instead, that is your hope for happiness, the one you should consistently work towards. That is the sense of self that we should strive for with every waking day.
Giving up on that idealism would mean giving up on hope - because that idealism is what you truly want. And we need that hope to work towards happiness.
Hopefully now, you have a basic idea or a basic self-preparation of what is required to work towards happiness. In part 2 in our how to be happy guide, we will look into what defines happiness, as well as the meaning and purpose of life.
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