Our expectation in life is to be happy, or so people will tell you if you ask them what they want in life. The desire to be happy is what drives people to keep on going.
Unfortunately, most of us will never reach that nirvana. Why? Because we don’t define “happiness” correctly.
So, what is happiness?
1. It has nothing to do with money.
One meme shared a lot on social media stated that is better to cry in a Ferrari than on a bicycle, yet Denmark is here to prove us wrong. It’s among top 3 countries to live in, while Copenhagen, its largest city, is rated the most bicycle-friendly city. So it looks like it’s better to work out on a bicycle than stay overweight in a car, whatever label it is. Having money has nothing to do with being happy. The wealthiest people I know are obsessed with making more money since they are afraid of not having enough.
2. It has nothing to do with material things
We live in a consumerist economy that teaches us that happiness is directly linked to the things we own. In order to be happy, we NEED that new phone, that new SUV and that designer bag. We are failures if we don’t have the latest fashion. The worst part is that when we start to think like this, we tell ourselves that we would be so happy if we could afford that 3 bedroom apartment, even if we only have one person to live it in, that we would feel so good if we could replace that car with the latest BMW, even if it still works fine. What we fail to see is that the more things we gather around us, the more pressure we put on ourselves to maintain those things and the more dissatisfied with our life we become.
3. It has nothing to do with beauty
If you haven’t yet seen the Model Squad series from E!, then you have missed nothing. This show is all about the “glamorous life” of models. Yet even the most beautiful women on Earth that walk Victoria’s Secret runway are told that they are too fat or too skinny to take up projects. Even these women have insecurities and are self-conscious of their beauty. From what I was able to get from the show, they are not the happiest people and their lives are not as fancy as they sounds. Linking beauty and the XXS size to happiness is only another myth.
4. It’s about mental and physical health
Reality is created by each and every one of us in our heads. If two people describe the same experience, chances are they’d see the same thing in completely different ways. Taking care of your health is one of the most important things — your body needs to function in a correct way in order to feel good. Just imagine the the feeling you get when you have a severe cold or a nasty headache. Are you still able to feel happy about seeing a beautiful sunrise?
Sometimes we have to lose our health in order to fully appreciate it and to start taking care of ourselves, but trust me when I say that you need it if you want to experience happiness and well-being.
5. It’s about the ability to forgive
Holding grudges might be more harmful than you think. Some studies even linked it to gaining weight. Betrayal is never a pleasant experience, but it’s up to us how much we let it affect us. Whenever you feel like you are incapable of forgiving someone, remember that it’s possible that you also hurt or betrayed someone else. We’re all human and we make mistakes, which is why we need to try to be the bigger person and put it behind us. Resentment is the opposite of happiness, so try to eliminate it from your life.
6. It’s about the power of letting go
Sometimes people leave us, other times we lose them. Life isn’t fair and it isn’t easy. Some events cannot be prevented and we can’t turn back time, so we need to make peace with the past in order to enjoy the present. Letting go might be even more painful than forgiving someone, but it’s necessary to be relieved from the ghosts. The good memories will always be there and you should hold on to those, but the rest needs to be released.
7. It’s about appreciating what you have
One of my favorite songs as a kid was Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun”, and it’s lyrics are still stuck in my head: “It’s not having what you want / It’s wanting what you’ve got.” If you’re able to read this, then you have access to the internet and you have a computer. You’re most likely not hungry and you probably have a roof over your head. This is more than most of the people on the planet have. Getting mad over the waiting line at Zara or the misspelled name on your Starbucks cup or the wrong order at a restaurant is not worth it. Imagine your life without water, in a war zone or with a terminal disease. I hope by now you start appreciating all the great things from your life, because you are among those who won the life lottery.
8. It’s about the journey
Making a dream come true is an amazing feeling, but so is working to make it happen. Every step of the way is a reason to be proud and happy! There is no final destination and there is always the next dream, the next great thing, so you need to start taking pleasure in the current journey.
9. It’s about living the moment
Concern about what the future will bring us and regrets from the things we did in the past often lead us to forget to live the only moment we have, and that is the present. There is no time machine. We will never know what is to come and we cannot change what was done, but we can do something about the current moment. Tomorrow should not be taken for granted, so make the most of today.
10. It’s all about love
Whether it’s the love you have for your body, for the people around you, for the world or just for life, all comes back to the love you are putting out there. Happy people are the ones that smile to the world, that embrace the human connection, that constantly fall in love with life. It all circles back to love. Whatever you do, there is no happiness that you can achieve by yourself.
If you got all the way to this point, I hope you understand that you can be happy and your life can be a happy one, as long as you just realize it. Happiness will never be a constant state — there will always be ups and downs. There is no such thing as a constantly happy life, just a normal life, one where you take advantage of what the world has to offer.
So whenever you find yourself wishing for happiness, just have a look around. There’s is a huge chance it’s already there.