Everyone wants to be happy.
Well, most people I’ve met want to be happy. I won’t say everyone because I am sure that there are certain people out there who want to be sad and hey, if they are happy being sad, then let them be sad… and be happy about it.
If you are happy to be sad, then are you sad or happy? My brain hurts.
For those of us who want to be happy, it can seem like an impossible goal at times.
Someone new comes into your life and you are ecstatic. You get a new car and you take any excuse to go for a ride because you love it. Maybe you even earned a promotion and everything is looking up in life!
But then that person ends up hurting you, that car costs more in insurance, and that promotion has a lot more work with only a minor increase in pay.
How can we be happy when there is always a good and a bad side to every situation we encounter?
Happiness must come from within.
If your happiness comes from anywhere but inside yourself, it can be taken away.
I’m not saying that you should never allow yourself to feel happy because of the people and things around you, I’m just saying that you should strive to achieve a baseline happiness that comes from within yourself.
That way when things go wrong in life—which they will, often—you will be able to take it in stride and learn from it, without it destroying your happiness.
If you want to develop a baseline happiness that emanates from within yourself, like anything else, it will take conscious effort. The most important step you can take towards this goal is to understand what we generally attach our happiness to.
The person (relationships), the car (material objects), and the promotion (goals).
The Person: Relationships.
I’ll let you in on a secret, I have a bit of a crush on someone.
For the past year I have consciously avoided girls because I have wanted to focus on my dreams. From the ages of fifteen to twenty two I never spent much time out of relationships.
I thought that having someone special in my life was integral to my happiness. The problem with thinking that anything outside of yourself is integral to your happiness is that the outside object is bound to fluctuate, and cause your happiness to fluctuate with it.
Every time my significant other would be distant, or things wouldn’t be working out exactly as I wanted, I would spiral downward. It would ruin my mood for days at a time.
Now I have a crush on someone and when things don’t go exactly as I want, I can feel the negativity knocking on my mental door.
Though this time, it is different.
Now I have learned that you can and should allow the people in your life to give you those amazing happy feelings, but you should never base your happiness on those people.
Take in the positive, but when you feel the negativity creeping in, remember that you are enough of a reason to be happy. No person can affect your baseline happiness if it emanates from within you.
The Car: Material Objects.
How many people think they would be happy if they only had all of the material things they want in life.
A new car, a new house and some diamonds sure do sound like they would make you happy! The truth is, that is just not the case.
You’ve heard a millions times that the richest people on the planet can often be the most depressed, and that the poorest can often be the happiest. If that is true, then how can material objects be the key to happiness?
The problem with material objects is that once you have them, the happiness will wear off over time.
When you first get that new flashy car, you will love driving it. You’ll jump at any opportunity to take it out for a spin just so you can show it off.
But humans aren’t thermometers. If you put a thermometer into cold water, it will read the water’s exact temperature no matter how long you leave it there. Move it to warmer water and it will indicate the exact temperature there as well.
Now, if you stick your hand in cold water and then warm water, the warm water will feel piping hot because you just had your hand in cold water. But leave your hand in that warm water for long enough and it will feel normal.
What am I trying to say here? Humans are sensitive to novelty and change, but novelty wears off in time and because the norm.
You had a crappy car and then bought a great car, awesome!
But a year after your purchase while you’re stuck in traffic, you won’t be thinking about your amazing car. The novelty will be gone and you will feel the same as if you were stuck in traffic in your old car.
The same principal applies to all material possessions. They will feel piping hot at first, but eventually they will be the norm and the novelty will be gone.
The Promotion: Goals.
This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
When Leroy and I started our blogs the world didn’t bat an eye. No one cared.
But we were happy.
Then eventually we started getting a like or two. From then on, if we didn’t get any likes on our content we would feel like failures.
Then we started reaching some of our goals like getting two hundred views on a post, after that anything less was a disappointment.
The problem with basing your happiness on reaching your goals is that every time you reach a goal, you want to reach further, and again, you aren’t happy unless you do.
And once you do, your expectations are raised again!
You can’t win a race if the finish line keeps moving, and you can’t base your happiness on your goals if your goals always grow.
Again, I’m not saying that you can’t allow yourself to be happy because you have someone new in your life, you got a new toy, or you reached a long sought after goal. I’m just saying that you should never base your happiness on these factors.
I encourage you to cultivate a sense of inner happiness that relies on no outside factors.
Allow happiness to come from outside but when negativity tries to enter, remember that your happiness is based in yourself, not on anything else.
Be happy because you deserve to be happy, regardless of outside circumstances.
Steven Farquharson, 2HelpfulGuys