We may all have different abilities, interests and lifestyles, goals, values, beliefs, and expectations, but there’s one thing that we all have in common: we want to be happy, we all desire true happiness.
So, ask yourself: How happy are you right now? How happy are you with your life in general, as a whole? Would you like to be happier? How much happier? Of course, it’s not possible to measure happiness; there’s no point system or way to measure the happiness flowing through your bloodstream. But we don’t need to be able to measure happiness to know whether we’re happy or not. And it seems that so many of us aren’t.
For many of us, it’s become important to appear super happy all the time; to share the happy news, post happy photos, tweet happy tweets. Due to social media’s obsession with joy, it can seem like everyone else is achieving nirvana levels of happiness and bliss. A 2019 poll by the charity Girl guiding, of girls and young women aged 11–21, found that one in three feels under pressure to present themselves as having a ‘perfect’ life on social media.
It’s easy to feel bad about ourselves for not being happy. And that just makes us feel worse. How come life is so rosy for other people? Maybe you think happiness is a matter of luck. It’s not. Happiness is not a matter of coincidence or good luck.
Neither is happiness a matter of living a blameless life or being in the right place at the right time. Happiness isn’t given to you, you can’t expect someone else to make you happy, you can’t wait for the stars to align before you can be happy, and you can’t just be happy.
Quite simply, happiness is a matter of following your human instinct to find purpose and meaning, managing the challenges that come with finding purpose and meaning, and enjoying the small pleasures in life. And, this article on Happiness – will show you how to do that.
Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be. – Abraham Lincoln
You will learn in this article that happiness doesn’t happen by chance – it’s a result of the thought, time, and effort you put into pursuing and maintaining happiness. Happiness comes from identifying what’s important in your life – in the different areas of your life: your work, your relationships, your hobbies and interests, your health, and so on – and having aims and purpose in those areas.
Being happy – living according to your values, having goals, doing what is important to you and has meaning for you – not only involves making an effort and persevering, taking some risks, and making sacrifices. It also means stepping out of your comfort zone. There will always be challenges and difficulties involved in pursuing happiness, but if you don’t push yourself, nothing will change, and you won’t be happier.
Related: The Happiness Quiz and 10 Ways to Create A Happier Life
Why Pursue Happiness or Why Be Happy?
Finally, just in case you need some encouragement to make the effort to pursue happiness, you might find it helpful to know what some of the benefits of happiness are. When you’re living a happy life, you:
- Feel engaged with the world around you
- Have aims and goals that you can work towards and achieve
- Have good levels of confidence and positive self-esteem
- Build and maintain good relationships with others
- More easily cope with the stresses of daily life, are more positive, and more solution-focused
- Manage better during challenging times in your life, help those around you to be happy.
With this article on Happiness – you will learn how to make happiness a habit. You will discover how to live a good life; a life that, despite its inevitable ups and downs, is both meaningful and pleasurable. A happy life!
Your values become your destiny. – Mahatma Gandhi
Also Read: Things to Remember On Bad Days
What Is Happiness?
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. – Jim Rohn
We all think of happiness as something positive; something good that we want to feel and to be. But is it realistic to think we can be happy all the time? To answer this, it helps to understand that happiness happens in two ways: first as a long-term, general sense of wellbeing and second as a short-lived pleasure.
As a short-lived pleasure, happiness is a result of something that pleases us in some way – a funny joke, an uplifting film, a delicious meal, a good night out, a great holiday – and causes us to feel emotions such as contentment, satisfaction, and enjoyment, delight, or joy. As a short-lived pleasure, this form of happiness is temporary; it’s passing happiness. Although short-lived pleasures do contribute towards happiness, we simply can’t feel like this all the time. It’s not realistic to think that we can.
But happiness is not only experienced as short-lived pleasure. We also experience happiness as a general sense of wellbeing. It’s this sort of happiness – a general, stable sense of wellbeing, feeling fulfilled, and feeling that life is good – that we can more realistically expect to experience if not all the time, then most of the time.
Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got. – Robert Brault
How to Be Happy: Find Purpose and Meaning: Know What’s Important to You; Know Your Values
To be happy, then, you need meaning and purpose in your life; but how do you find meaning and purpose? To stand any chance of finding meaning and purpose we need to first understand what’s important to us; we need to start with our values.
We all have values, and we each have different values. Maybe you’ve not given much thought to what your values are, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Quite simply, your values are those things that are important to you and give weight to the way that you live, work, and relate to other people.
What have your values got to do with being happy? In different areas of your life, when what you do and how you live matches your values, things will just feel right. What you do and how you live will feel compatible with what’s important to you. And that will help you to be happy.
As we grow up, we learn values, morals, and rules for the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to be and behave from our parents, family, and friends, our school, community, and culture. It’s likely that the values you internalized as a child will have remained with you through adulthood. Core values such as truth and honesty, kindness and fairness are, of course, always admirable and worthwhile.
However, other values that you may have been brought up with – ambition and achievement, success, excellence, and perfection – may not have proved important to you; maybe the values of spontaneity and adventure, risk, and courage were more appealing. Or, it could be that you were brought up in a family or culture where the values of self-discipline, self-reliance, persistence, duty, and respect were paramount.
Although you haven’t rejected those values, your priorities are more in line with the values of empathy, belonging, care, and kindness. Or perhaps creativity, the pursuit of beauty, harmony, and peace are more important to you.
What core values were you raised with? What did your parents value, and what values did they impress upon you? What values were reflected in the way you were rewarded or disciplined? Are your current values the same as those you grew up with? Have you consciously dropped some values from your upbringing and adopted different ones?
Usually, adolescence is a time when – in your efforts to forge your identity (who you are) and your social identity (how you fit in with others) – you question and reject some or even all of the values you were brought up with and establish your own.
But maybe you’ve never questioned the values you were brought up with; you’ve simply accepted them and created your life around those values. That’s all well and good if you’re happy, but if you’re living your life or parts of your life according to values that you don’t believe in, you may well feel conflicted, out of balance, and unhappy.
It’s not just the values your parents impressed upon you that have an impact; the values of your culture and society have a strong influence too. The pursuit of wealth and material goods, academic qualifications, status, and power, winning, being popular, and being attractive have become dominant values in much of Western society.
Too often, too many of us subscribe to these values in the mistaken belief that they are the only route to happiness and success.
You don’t have to make your life look like anybody else says it should look. – Dee Rees
How to Get into the Habit of Being Happy?
The first thing that stops many people from living a life that’s true to them is the fact that they haven’t identified what is true to them; they haven’t clarified what their values are; what’s meaningful and important to them. So, identifying your values is the first step towards living your own life; living a life that’s true to you.
Identify Your Core Values
What are your values? To help you identify these, here is a list of some common core values. Tick any that are important to you. Add any you think of that are not included on the list.
- Approval, etc.
Note: Once you’ve been through them, narrow down your list to between five and seven values. These are your ‘core’ values; your most important, essential values.
Interpret and Better Understand Your Values
Once you’ve identified your core values, give some thought to what each of those values means to you. Different values mean different things to different people, so it’s useful to define what each value means to you and how it relates to your life.
You might find it helpful to write it down. The process of defining, in writing, what each value means to you can help you further clarify what it is and why it’s important to you. For each value, answer these questions:
- What does the word (the value) mean? What does the dictionary say this word means? Do I agree with that definition? How would I describe to someone else what this word means to me, how it applies to my life?
- Why is this value important to me?
- In what way is this value currently a part of my life? How do I live this value? If, for example, kindness and compassion were my values, how, where, and when am I able to be kind and compassionate?
- Do I need more opportunities in my life to live my core values?
Secondary Values and Goals
As well as core values, you also have secondary values. Secondary values are those things that are important to you in a specific area or aspect of your life. Your work, for example, is an area of your life and so you will have work values: beliefs about what’s important to you in a job. Your relationships with your partner, family, and friends are other areas or aspects of your life.
So you will have relationship values: ideas and beliefs about what’s important to you in a friendship or relationship with a partner or other family member. Knowing your core values and secondary values in different areas of your life can help you find meaning and purpose; help you to identify goals and have things to work towards and aim for.
Work and Career
To be happy, you need to live a life that is in harmony with your values and, if you work, then your work is a large part of your life. When you enjoy your work, and you’re engaged in what you’re doing, you’re using your skills and strengths. And, just as importantly, your work should relate to your values.
What does good health mean to you? What are your health values: what’s important to you when it comes to being in good health? If you’ve no health problems, you might take it for granted and give it no thought or make no effort to maintain your good health.
For someone else, though, maintaining good health might involve eating healthy foods, going to the gym and yoga classes, and getting enough sleep. For others, good health means making sure they stay on top of a chronic health condition they are suffering from – taking their medication, doing physio exercises, and having regular health checks.
You might want to think about setting some goals related to your physical health. Maybe you want to lose weight, stop smoking, build more exercise into your life, do some strength training, take up running, or simply be able to walk up three flights of stairs without being out of breath.
It could be that you set goals related to your mental health; maybe, for example, you’ve been struggling with depression or anxiety, and you want to set some goals around managing that.
Also Read: Basic Breathing Tips for Yoga Beginners
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