More and more in recent years, I have found reasons and techniques for why I should be and how I can be a happier person. As a post-graduate 22 year-old, I think I’m a little more inclined than the average early twenty-something to be consistently and consciously aware of what an amazing experience and opportunity it can be to be alive. I’m often considered a fairly upbeat, energetic and optimistic person by friends and family. Recently, over the period of a week, I was asked two questions by two of my friends: “Do you ever struggle to be happy?” and “What is your secret to living a joyful life?”
In answer to the first question, the words “of course” came falling out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think. To struggle is to live. Struggling is the only way humans cope and adapt to their ever changing environments. We constantly struggle to understand the world around us and to find happiness and meaning in each of our lives. You may ask now, if we all are doomed for struggle, and if in fact to struggle is to live, grow and evolve, why are some of us better equipped than others to handle the stress, anxiety, fear and problems that life deals us? Ultimately, there is only one thing you can control in life. It is the only thing that no one in the world can change or alter in any way, regardless of circumstance or situation.
The ability to have various outlooks, opinions or points of view is a purely human quality. Many people believe that they are bound and shackled by the way they perceive and comprehend the world around them. There will always be a hundred things that you are required to do in life that are a seemingly mundane and irritating waste of time. Once you are able to start finding some form of joy and pleasure in even the most monotonous and tiresome undertakings in life, the beautiful things around you that may have slipped by unnoticed or left unappreciated are suddenly more meaningful and significant.
Each of us has the capacity to decide whether we want to view the struggle that inherently accompanies life as a task to be endured and completed, or a kind of opportunity to learn from, grow and experience. Once an individual begins to accept that their perspective can be only controlled by themselves, they will begin to experience life through a lens of self-empowerment, where they are able to decide to what degree they will struggle with or accept the challenges of life.
I hope it goes without saying (although I’ll say it anyway), that in no way am I claiming to know the only solutions for how to live a happier life-nor am I the first or thousandth person to stress the importance of perspective and rolling with life’s punches.
To struggle alongside our fellow humans and live compassionately and emphatically with one another gives life a special essence and meaning that we are here, to help one another, and together experience the full spectrum of what life has to offer. With an open and positive perspective, feelings of gratitude for simply waking up in the morning and realizing what fortune we have to be here at all will trump the feelings of desperation to merely ‘get through’ life.