On Happiness (and How to Achieve It)
By Ruby Singh
What is happiness?
According to Merriam-Webster, happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment.”
I think it’s safe to say that we all want to be happy. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t. Why do so many of us struggle to find happiness? Oftentimes, it’s because we are surrounded by things that drag us down. The more time we spend surrounded by things like this, the unhappier we become. Another source is having a negative mindset. You won’t be happy if you’re always comparing yourself to others. The simplest solution is to remove these negative things from our lives and focus on positives. It’s very likely you are doing things every day that add to your sadness; but luckily, there are better alternatives:
Realize failure is the beginning, not the end.
Typically, anyone who has tried something new will quickly realize they are not good at it. Whether it’s learning to play the piano, playing a sport, or learning how to code. This is usually the point where many people will get discouraged and give up. If you give up when things are difficult, you won’t be able to learn the skills that will make you successful at whatever it is you want to do. I had this problem when I first started to work with kids. I had no idea how to manage the classroom and they didn’t respect my authority. As time passed, they learned to respect me and looked up to me as a role model. They quieted down when I told them to.This only happened as I continued to work with them consistently. Remember, success isn’t linear.
Make peace with the past.
Guilt is a powerful emotion. It’s an emotion that will hover over you like a raincloud and hold you back. Don’t let negative experiences follow you around. Don’t worry about things that have happened in the past. There’s not much you can do to change them, so you might as well let them go. I wasn’t always there for my family in the past, but worrying about it won’t change that. There will always be opportunities to fix my mistakes and redeem myself in the near future. Focus your energy on what you can do now instead of living in the past.
Stop thinking and start acting.
Paralysis by analysis: over analyzing a situation so that a decision is never made. I’m definitely guilty of this one. If you never decide on what you’re going to do, you won’t be able to take the first step to get there. The first step is the hardest, but there are many more after it. Start somewhere and go from there. I’ve personally had this problem with deciding on a major. I changed my major so many times and I’ve finally realized it doesn’t really matter what I do, as long as I start something and stay with it.
Never compare yourself to others.
Comparing your life to someone else’s is the quickest way to be unhappy. Everyone’s path is different. If you haven’t figured it out in your 20’s, don’t worry. Most of us haven’t. I’m not expected to graduate until I’m 26, meaning most of my friends have graduated and already started their careers. I felt like I got left behind in the dust. It’s taken me some time to realize that everyone’s path to success is different. Not everyone finishes at the same time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I know life can be chaotic, especially when you have multiple obligations. It’s so important to take a few minutes out of your day to be grateful for something. It doesn’t have to be something major. It can be as simple as having a good hair day, or when the barista makes your coffee just right.
Surround yourself with the right people.
If someone in your life is always negative, I suggest you distance yourself. Finding friends who are more positive will help you become more positive as well. Try to avoid the people who compare you to others, the ones who are overly critical and judgmental and the complainers. I recently did this with a family member and I feel so much better.
Find a hobby that gives you purpose.
Everyone needs a hobby to help them unwind. Whatever you decide to do, you should find it rewarding and meaningful in some way. I’ve found reading and writing to be great hobbies for me. They really help me get my mind off things and give me an outlet to express my thoughts.
Before writing this article, happiness meant something different to me. It meant graduating from college, landing a good job, and making more money than I am now. After some self-reflection, I’ve realized doing that will make me successful, but it won’t necessarily make me happy. The important thing for me is finding meaningful work. Practicing the tips above will help anyone who is struggling by shifting their mindset to a more positive one. Happiness isn’t something that’s just going to come into your life. Like anything else, you’re going to have to work for it.