Since I’m focused on happiness, I occasionally get asked how to always be happy? What does it take? Are there a few simple steps?
It’s just not possible to be happy all the time. All you can do is optimize. Emotions, including negative ones, are an essential part of life. The sooner you accept these unpleasant experiences instead of fighting them, the closer you are to optimizing happiness.
All too often people are caught in the trap of ‘why am I not happy all the time’ which actually fuels their unhappiness. No one is always happy, no matter what it looks like from the outside. It’s not a realistic state of humanity. People just don’t work that way.
You can’t be happy all the time, but you can significantly increase the percent of time you’re happy. Here’s a couple topics to focus on. Though they won’t be comprehensive, it will give you a few ideas on where to dig deeper.
Determine what is in your control
A huge happiness blocker is focusing on things outside control. Often this comes in the form of ‘should’. I should have done this major. My significant other should take out the trash if they care about me. Being able to determine what’s actually in control as compared to not, and focusing efforts on things in control make a huge difference.
Understand Yourself Better
The better you know yourself the better you can act in a way that optimizes happiness. This means recognizing the patterns, impulses, and values. It’s about figuring out your genetic traits and your ingrained patterns. This is typically a bit longer of a project than just a few minutes, but it’s a place that’s essential to look.
How You Relate To Events
How you relate to ideas is slightly more abstract, but extremely important. Our happiness largely hinges on how we interpret and relate to events, ideas, and interactions. Let’s take waking up late for example. Some people might take this as ‘wow now the entire day is ruined’ or ‘this always happens to me’. Others relate to this event with ‘whoops, guess I need to hurry to get back on schedule’ or ‘I really need to find another alarm that works better’. How we relate to stimulation makes a huge difference.
Happiness is not purely a conceptual game, nor is it passive. We must actually take action to influence our lives. This can mean changing our environment, practicing mental activities to improve our habits, or countless other actions. Happiness doesn’t just show up and stay forever, it’s something we wrestle with indefinitely. We can get better at it, but we have to take action.
If it helps, consider happiness a sport like boxing. There’s a lot we can do to improve, but we never know for certain who our opponent is. Sometimes we’re going to lose, but we can get to a point where we almost always win. Even when we’re on top, we’ll come out of the ring with some bruises. Happiness is similar. We can’t always be happy. We can work on a ton of aspects to optimize happiness, but some obstacles will knock us down. The best we can do is practice and prepare.
Exercises & Reflection Questions
How realistic is your idea of happiness?
What is your relationship with the concept of happiness?
What actions can you take to optimize happiness?
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