Happiness is everyone’s end goal, and too many of us mistakenly believe that happiness is a destination that we will be reaching some day. We invest all our time and energy into things that supposedly make us happy, and we feel disappointed by how fleeting it can be. Phrases like “Create your own happiness” seem appealing, but we may have no idea how to actually go about creating happiness within ourselves. This is because we define happiness as a definitely opposite of sadness, and believe that when we are sad, we cannot possibly be happy. Sadness and happiness are mutually exclusive according to most people. We are happy due to the present emotional state: dinner date with your partner makes you happy, but a disagreement with your partner makes you sad. Now, while these reactions are completely true and expected, happiness can also be defined differently.
To look at happiness in a new light, we need to let go of some inherent beliefs about happiness. First, we need to understand that we cannot be in a perpetual state of happiness. Happiness cannot be a permanent state. Life will come at us in different ways, and other emotions, like anger, frustration, sadness and disappointment are going to be a part of our life no matter what. Our mood will change over time, and accepting these feelings rather than fighting them can save us a lot of pain, heartache, anxiety and distress. When we accept the negative with the positive, we allow ourselves to deal with the negative emotions constructively rather than destroy ourselves in them. Secondly, we need to also understand that there are some things that we cannot change. Most of us end up giving into the negativity when we feel like we cannot change something and things will never go the way we want, but this leads us nowhere. When we accept that a situation has limits and understand what those limits are, we need to be able to plan around these limitations and continue with our lives. When we accept both these things, we don’t automatically feel happy, we just make sure that we don’t get permanently stuck in a negative feeling like sadness or anger.
Happiness can be that transitory state, but it can also come from within us when we begin to make meaning of our life and decide who we want to become in the longer run. When we know that we are living a meaningful life that is consistent with values that are important to us, we can start to look at happiness as a constant despite any bumps that come up along the road. Finding a way to create purpose and meaning can seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. These 5 steps below can help you to get started:
1. The Important Values
Firstly, you must be able to figure out what values are important to you. Values are not goals, like buying a car or a home, but rather beliefs that will guide your life. What kind of person do you want to become? If you want to help people, service might be a value to embody. If you want to be a good parent, patience and understanding might be important values. If you want to make a difference on a larger scale in the world, perseverance is an important value. Your values depend on what you want to achieve in life, such as education, vocation, intimacy, physical health and recreation, as well as what kind of person you want to be in various relationships, such as a spouse, a parent, a citizen, or a leader.
2. Behavior And Values
To know our values is important, but it is also important to align our behavior with these values so that we head towards a goal. For example, if you want to make a difference in your country as a citizen, you might want to join the army. What sort of behavior will make you successful in this endeavor? For some people, a meaningful romantic relationship is an important thing, so what sort of behavior will make a partner happy and keep them happy in the long run, and make you a loving partner? These questions and thoughts can help you to reorient yourself to the long term goal based on values that are important to you.
3. Action And Values
Once we incorporate our values into ourselves and our behavior, we need to act on it. What activities can help you enjoy yourself while also making sure they are attached to things that are important to you? If you want to be a good partner, you could take time to learn something your partner likes to do and find new ways to connect with them. In this way, your actions and behavior become aligned to your important core values.
4. Vital Qualities
Some qualities are better than others in the pursuit of happiness, and help us sustain a life of meaning. Qualities like responsibility, creativity, gratitude, humility, enthusiasm, empathy, compassion, kindness, connection and enthusiasm are extremely important. They help us to find a better perspective in trying times, and end up guiding us better throughout our life. Gratitude for example, can help us find light even in the darkest of times. Activities like meditation, mindfulness and yoga have shown to cultivate these qualities.
5. Be Mindful Of Negative Emotions
Negative emotions are a part of life, but being mindful of them can make all the difference. When you feel like you cannot handle the negativity, pause and take a breath. Every problem has a solution, even if it is a solution that we don’t like or a solution that will take time to play out. Determining what to do next in a tough situation can help you to continue with the purpose while also making sure you don’t get stuck in the negativity.