Welcome to the last part of our how to be happy guide! So far, we have examined how the various aspects - purpose, health, wealth and love contribute to happiness, as well as some key concepts in working towards each goal and keeping motivated.
Do check out the previous chapters if you haven't already!
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
You may have noticed that all of the aspects of happiness focuses on yourself first. We need to find our purpose, work on our health, build our wealth and develop love and support. This is because happiness inherently is an emotion felt by your own self.
While having all four of these aspects can help you find happiness, don't expect them to magically make you happy. Happiness is a journey, not an end. As our lives develop and change, so too our requirements for happiness. It's something we need to keep working towards.
As such, we want to share some concepts that can aid you on this journey towards happiness. Whether you are depressed, sad or just in a bad spot in life right now, do keep these in mind!
Life isn't a race
First of all, an important concept to remember is that life isn't a race. Often, we compare ourselves to other people, and feel sad when we are unable to be better than who we are.
This is more prominent when we think that the other person had the same starting line as us. For example, you went to the same school, but the other person found a way better job than you, or you had the same living standard, but that person is now a millionaire...
This is a negative cycle that impacts our bid for happiness. Life isn't about who is better or who is worse. We all live different lives, and it is unfair to yourself to base how successful other people are (or seem to be) in life by our own standards.
Everyone has their own problems and insecurities. No matter how much better people seem to be doing, that is you viewing others through your own standards. Perhaps they aren't happy with themselves either.
What I'm trying to say is that we should focus on ourselves first and foremost. What is the place you want to be? If you're not in that place right now, how can you work towards that goal?
Ignore how other people are doing. If they are there already, great! Seek advice from them about how they got there, not hate them for it. Hate and jealousy is a waste of time - time that could have been spent on bettering yourself and moving towards your goals.
Only use advice that is applicable to yourself. Sure, things like "I was born rich" can be annoying to hear, but that's just life being life. Happiness is not a measure of what we are born with, but what we do with the things we are given. It's a process. Work on the things within your control - you'll be happier for it.
Remember, life isn't a race. It doesn't matter if someone got there earlier or later than you. There is no need for comparison. We only have one chance at living our life, and this life belongs to us alone.
I read this quote somewhere once, and thought it was really great:
In life, what matters is not the speed, but the direction.
It doesn't matter how fast you get there, only that you are moving in the right direction that you want to go. Remember, happiness is an ever evolving journey. A process. It is not a magical thing whereby you reach an end and it appears.
If most of our lives are spent on a journey towards a goal, then why not make that journey the meaningful part, instead of the end?
Don't take life too seriously - it saps out all of the joy in living.
Focus on improving yourself
In life, we'll receive a lot of feedback from people around us. Some of this comes from people who are close to us, our friends and family. Most of them come from the people who we don't care so much about.
Sure, we are born with a lot of negatives. Maybe we don't look that great. Maybe we have some form of medical condition. No matter what we have, there will always be someone who manages to find fault with you.
Yet no matter what people say, nothing hurts more than if you yourself finds fault with yourself. If someone says that you're ugly, fine. But if even you start thinking that you're ugly, then that's when your downward spiral starts happening.
Learning to separate the mindset of what you think versus what other people think is an important concept to have - whether it's for self-improvement or investing.
I'm not saying we should ignore what other people think about us. That's impossible. We'll definitely be affected to a certain extent by that.
What we can change however, is how affected we are by different things. In essence, we want to focus on our positives, but not ignore the negatives.
If someone says something good about us, then take it as a compliment and work on improving yourself to make that trait stand out even more.
If someone says something negative however, then we need to be a little more rational. Is that trait really negative? Can it be worked upon? Don't ignore the negatives - after all, that's how we know which aspects are can improve ourselves on.
At the same time, we need to make sure that it is justifiable for us to worry over. Work on those worth working on, and ignore those that aren't.
Particularly, place more importance on feedback that come from those closer to you. They are usually more genuine and in your best interests. Don't worry yourself too much about people who don't affect your lives day to day.
Learn to validate yourself
It is undeniable that we need validation from others to feel good about ourselves. After all, we want people to recognize the effort we put in, whether it's for ourselves or towards other people.
Yet this need for validation can also hurt a lot if we don't get what we wanted. After all, everyone leads their own lives, and they usually don't have time to spare for other people.
For your own self happiness, you will need to learn how to self validate. This means prescribing meaning to the actions and things that you do.
In effect, you will want to do things because they are meaningful to you, instead of them being meaningful for somebody else.
This means that things like helping others should be a meaningful thing to you because you like seeing other people happy - not because you want their validation of you.
The same goes when we are trying to work on the love aspect of happiness. When we seek love from others, it may seem like we are trying to seek their validation of us, but that should not really be the case.
Instead, make people love you because of who you are, not who they want you to be. What does this mean?
Remember when we said that like attracts like? Make yourself attractive by doing the things you love. If you like drawing, draw. If you like sports, do sports. As you meet people doing the same things, they will come to like you because of who you are and because you enjoy doing the same things as them.
Similarly, if you have a certain personality, express the strengths of that personality. People will come to love you for who you are, instead of you trying to get people who don't like that personality to like you.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't work on the flaws of your personality. We all have flaws, and we should always try to make ourselves better - if for no one else but our own peace of mind and self-improvement.
If you work on other people and obtain their validation, you may hold their love for a while, but what they give you can similarly be taken away when their needs change.
If you work on yourself and make yourself valuable for who you are and the skills and personality you possess, these are things that cannot be taken away from you. Those that love you will be those that love you for who you are, and not who they want you to be.
Make yourself valuable. Don't let other people give value to you.
Don't restrain your emotions
As humans, we all feel emotions. Often times, we are so obsessed with the need to feel happy and fulfilled that we subconsciously reject all other emotions. Sure, it'd be great to feel happy all the time, but that kind of life is just a fantasy.
Instead of repressing emotions of sadness, it's better to experience them thoroughly. In this way, we are better equipped to deal with them.
The best way to deal with negative emotions is to confront them. Face them and let them flow. Look at the reason causing that emotion and deal with it, instead of running away from the reality of it.
Your emotions are a natural part of you, caused by an underlying reason. Don't restrain and avoid them. How we feel isn't something we can control, but how we deal with the emotion is.
This applies to any kind of emotion we feel. If we feel angry, then there's a reason why are are angry. Instead of suppressing our anger, learn to control it and yourself. Find what makes you angry, and resolve the issue rationally (preferably in a non violent manner).
The more you bottle up your emotions, the more likely it is for us to snap one day. Sadness, anger, depression... it all builds up. It's better to slowly let our emotions flow and learn from them, for better or for worse.
Restraining your emotions may help you function rationally in the short term, but it's not good for your long term mental health. If you keep dampening the emotions you feel, one day, you may even dampen happiness and not feel it fully ever again.
So let it free. Find someone to talk to. Someone to vent. Happiness isn't a solo effort. It's better with someone's help, because they can ensure you don't become lost in your emotion.
If you are depressed, they can make sure you don't stay depressed. Instead, learn from the emotion, and harness it. You can't control you feel, but you can control what you do while feeling it. Work on that.
Learn to introspect often
An important part of knowing who you are is introspection. These days, we are always focusing on things other than ourselves.
We want to do well in this field. We want other people to think this about us. It's always about society. What can we do for society? What can we do for this world?
Lesser and lesser people these days ask:
What can I do for myself?
Remember, the more we focus on things that are outside, the less time we have for ourselves. The happiness we gain from doing these kind of things are external, when what we really want is internal happiness - that which we give ourselves.
Of course, part of internal happiness comes from external happiness, and making our loved ones happy. However, the important thing here is that if we first focus on ourselves, we enable ourselves to be in a better position to help others.
It's the same concept as being in an airplane emergency. When the oxygen masks drop, put on your own first before helping others. If we aren't even in a stable position ourselves, don't expect to be able to help others properly. You might even hurt them instead.
The best thing you can do for the people who love you is to be good to yourself. It takes a stable person to help an unstable person, or it would be like the blind leading the blind, wouldn't it?
Knowing who you are is an important part of that. Acknowledging your personality, your weaknesses and strengths, and how you react in various situations - these things make you who you are.
They also give you a direction to work on in life and the goals that you seek. To discover all these and build upon them, we need to introspect.
Think about who we are and how we feel. What makes us feel good? What makes us feel bad? What situations do we not like, or what values do we hold close to us?
Knowing these will change the direction of your life, focusing your efforts into making yourself happy. Think about yourself first.
Introspection also applies to things that we feel regret over. We often can't control how we feel until after an ordeal is over. These are like the embarrassing situations in life that you remember late at night, making you unable to fall asleep.
However, what we can do is reminiscence. Think about what we could have done better. Think about the various actions you took and how you could have improved.
You may not be able to change the past, but you can certainly change the future. But to do so in a positive way, you need to introspect and grow.
Grow in the way you handle your emotions. Grow in the way you treat others. And most important, grow in the way you treat yourself.
Think long term
When asked how he remained optimistic in the face of great pessimism, he replied:
What helps me a lot is taking a long view on things. I think so much pessimism, and so much stress, arises from looking at things in the very narrow here and now.
As we focus on our immediate problems and issues, we may find ourselves in a quagmire. We may be extremely pessimistic and lost.
The things that are close to us may affect us the most - but they are not lasting. They're like the weather. It may rain on us one day, and storm the next, but if we look at the long term view of things, the weather is just a passing inconvenience.
All that stress and pain you might be experiencing now - will simply be a memory in better times ahead. Our goal here is to work towards those better times, and not focus on the pain.
Think long term. Are you progressing towards your long term goals? Are you improving yourself day by day, working towards your dream version of yourself? If yes, they don't beat yourself up too much. You'll get there, slowly but surely.
Life is like running a race. If you look down at your feet, all you'll be counting is how many steps you have to take to reach the finishing line. If you look ahead, then your only goal remaining is to run, and run forward.
Be open to change
Finally, as we search for happiness, we must be open to change. As mentioned, happiness is not a stationary goal, but a moving target. As our values and personalities shift over time, influenced by the things we experience, so too our definition of happiness.
Staying restricted to a single mindset or path is a sure way to fail. No company ever succeeded without innovating and adapting to change. Similarly, a fulfilled life consists of adapting yourself to your changing needs.
Yes, we need to learn to make ourselves valuable, and giving ourselves meaning. This means staying true to who you are and your values. However, this doesn't mean that your values cannot change.
As we go through our lives, we will meet many different people and situations. As the saying goes:
I'm the average of the people I meet, and the books I read.
As we gain more experience and learn different things, our worldview and mindsets may change. We must learn to be open to new and novel things, even those that may seem contradictory to what we believe.
In essence, this means learning to acknowledge your faults and that you may be wrong. Don't be afraid to know that you are wrong. Perhaps your values are wrong, or your mindset was wrong - it doesn't matter.
Be open to change. If you're wrong, change it. Change for the better. You'll be happier that way.
Thanks for reading our how to be happy guide! We've explored quite a few topics pertaining to happiness, including how purpose, health, wealth and love affects happiness, as well as some key concepts you can apply in life when facing different issues.
Hopefully, we've helped you in some way or another and we wish you all the best in working towards your own happiness. It's going to be hard, but don't give up! Remember that happiness is a journey, so try to enjoy the process of it!
Now, I don't like reading things that say good to hear words without any concrete plan, so I'll attempt to end this with a step by step routine that you can consider taking if you've got your life in a rut.
- Read this guide, so you have an idea about what we're trying to work towards.
- Introspect. What is making you unhappy? What are your biggest stress points in life right now?
- Narrow down. Which ones can I work on, or are within my reach to make a difference? Which ones do I have control over? Focus on those and ignore those that you can't control.
- Brainstorm solutions and ask for help. What are some steps I can take to improve on these issues? Lack of friends? How can I join a club or something where I can meet people? Too much work? How do other people cope?
- Create a routine. Now that you have some goals and solutions to work towards, make a routine to help you along those goals. Fill up your week with the routine, but not all at once!
Start slow, so it's easier for you to adapt. Don't fill up your days fully. Give plenty of break times. Then, increase your routine's tasks when you are capable of following your routine. Importantly, get someone to supervise you and make sure you are following your routine! It's hard to do it alone.
- Review. Are the things you are doing improving your lifestyle? Do you feel happier? If not, you might need to introspect and reevaluate what you are doing.
- Stay consistent. Happiness is a process. You need to keep at it to feel happy. Don't allow yourself to lapse back into doing nothing - get someone to supervise you! The wider your support net, the easier it is to catch yourself and continue working on happiness. Stay hopeful, and keep going!
Hopefully, you've gained some new insights from this guide that can help spur you along. We wish you all the best in working towards happiness!
Additionally, you may have noticed that we bring up personality a lot in various parts of this guide.
This is because your personality determines who you are and what you stand for. It also gives hints as to what jobs you'll like and the people whom you prefer, making it integral for discovering your purpose and love.
In our next guide, we'll examine the concept of personality more deeply, so do keep an eye out for it!
An examination on personality: Coming soon!
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