Live Your Most Beautiful Life
Processing personal happiness, for many, is an increasingly difficult task to do in a world with so much negativity, sadness, and pessimism. Millions of people turn to consumerism, achievement and financial prosperity, or new intimate relationships in order to grab a hold of happiness, only to find that the new pair of shoes, the promotion at work, or the new partner didn't translate into a higher, lasting, sense of happiness and inner peace.
When I think about general happiness, I often ponder about the degree to which we've been duped as a society. If we sit in front of the television long enough, we will convince ourselves that purchasing that new Lexis or Mercedes Benz will take us to a new, permanent level of personal satisfaction. If we surround ourselves with people obsessed with appearances, we will convince ourselves that no one around us has a problem in the world and then wonder why our lives are not so great in comparison. If we look at too many images of what the media deems as "beautiful people," we may convince ourselves that in order to achieve personal happiness and success, we must do everything and anything to "improve" our beauty in order to ultimately reach our true desire: happiness.
Don't fall for the hype when it comes to truly being happy in life. It is very easy for people to fake happiness. In reality, many find it extremely difficult to really find inner happiness, a sense a calm or peace not attached to things, people, or achievement. People are taught to believe that certain things in life guarantee happiness, only to fall into a figurative black hole of frustration, depression, and resentment when the life they fought to achieve did not automatically guarantee self-satisfaction.
You can't purchase happiness, and you can't absorb happiness by copying the outward manifestation of happiness of another person. To truly experience inner peace, you must unlearn what you believed would create happiness in your life and partake in the simple life experiences that lead to long lasting joy:
Be grateful: Marilyn Elias, in her article "Psychologists Now Know What Makes People Happy", explained that being grateful has a big impact on one's ability to be happy. Psychologists note that "gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction." Specifically, "talking and writing about what they're grateful for amplifies adults' happiness." Some researchers have found that indulging in small pleasures has the same effect, and that forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness.
Embrace life's imperfections: Some people believe that in order to be genuinely happy, life must be perfect or close to perfect. However, life is inherently imperfect, replete with positive and negative changes and experiences that simply don't make sense. In order to not partake in an emotional rollercoaster according to what life throws at you, it is essential to not be obsessed with extreme joy all the time. Genuine happiness and inner peace sits somewhere in the middle between extreme joy and optimism and extreme sadness and pessimism. It is an inner peace and understanding that no one can take away from you, regardless of whatever actions they may take to try and steal your joy.
Make a decision to live your own life: To some degree, we are impacted by other people around us and their opinions about how we should live our lives. However, you can't live your life for somebody else, and they can't live your life for you. Never feel pressured to pursue a career or any other achievement simply because somebody else told you that you should pursue that goal. Search within your heart for the goals that you would like to achieve in your life and pursue that goal. You only have one life, so take advantage of every single day to learn what truly makes you happy and pursue goals attached to your inner joy. Tune out "haters" in your life that try to fill your mind with doubt and discouragement, and surround yourself with people that will support your personal life mission.
Take your mind off yourself and help others: You may feel like you don't have time to help others or volunteer in your local community, but you will be surprised how helping others directly (and positively) impacts your personal happiness. According to the article, "Do Good, Feel Good", "a newly emerging school of thought suggests that a simple, age-old principle may be part of both the prevention and the cure: Help others to help yourself." According to the article, Darwinism provides strong insight into the reasons why we feel happy when we help others: “As Darwin noted, group selection played a strong rule in human evolution. If something like helping benefits the group, it will be associated with pleasure and happiness,” explains Stephen Post, Ph.D., a research professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University who co-authored the book Why Good Things Happen to Good Peoplewith Jill Neimark." Evolution may not completely explain why we feel so great when we help others. "Since depression, anxiety, and stress involve a high degree of focus on the self, focusing on the needs of others literally helps shift our thinking. 'When you’re experiencing compassion, benevolence, and kindness, they push aside the negative emotions,' says Post. 'One of the best ways to overcome stress is to do something to help someone else.”"
Indulge in self-exploration: No one can tell you what truly makes your heart beat and what gets you going everyday. Consider setting aside time everyday and go to the "College of [Fill in Your Name Here]". In a quiet and calm space, do some journaling and brainstorming about your interests and the hobbies and activities that you would like to explore. As a student of self-exploration, you must be willing to unlearn what you thought made you happy, and truly be open to hearing yourself and your true passions and interests in life. You may be surprised to find out what you learn about yourself when you clear out the noise and clutter of life and think about what truly brings joy and peace into your life.
-Written by: Cafe Belle's Mind and Body Barista