If you ask the first few people you walk into on the street what they want out of life, providing they don’t want to see materialistic or lustful (e.g. I want a Ferrari, girls, Jason Momoa, etc.), they’re going to say they want happiness.
People use happiness to justify all kinds of things:
“Oh well, as long as they’re happy”
In short, happiness is something most of us hold up on a pedestal, and regard as a worthy life goal, beyond almost anything else. Why is it then, that so few of us will ever actually achieve anything resembling our definition of happiness?
What is Happiness?
Before anything else, if you’re going to achieve any kind of goal, you’ve got to, to some degree, define it. No matter what you’re aiming for, you need to know when you’re actually hitting those goals.
So what is happiness? How can you define it? What does it actually feel like? Well first off, it’s not some kind of weird ecstatic joy that you feel from waking to going to bed.
True happiness is effectively just contentment. Acceptance of your circumstances, enjoying the path and journey you’re on. Embracing the effort and reward, and simply being grateful for the good things in your life.
Happiness isn’t winning the lottery. It’s not scoring an amazing work promotion or getting into great shape, or anything like that. It’s the journey to the things you want while experiencing gratitude for the things you have.
People often think that the opposite of happiness is sadness or depression. It’s not. It’s boredom. Without any real goals or struggles, humans get miserable and unsatisfied, and if left unstimulated for long enough, the brain turns on itself. That’s one, albeit unscientific, reasoning behind mental illness.
Effectively, for our purposes, happiness is really just a blend of being on the right path and working towards things we care about, whilst being grateful and content with the things we have.You can’t be obsessing about what’s wrong with you or your life, that isn’t happiness! Click To Tweet
In short, you could probably just boil happiness down to proactive gratitude and focus.
The Major Roadblocks
For the majority of us, there’s a range of roadblocks that stop us achieving happiness in our lives. While this list could effectively be endless, for the purpose of this article, we’ll settle for eight of the big ones.
If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’ll know I’ve got a major bee in my bonnet regarding social media. When you think about what it actually is, it’s hard not to start viewing it as a major obstacle.
Social media is about bragging and showing off. It’s not about sharing your life and experiences, it’s about making other people jealous when you’re on holiday, or you’re finally in great shape, and then feeling jealous yourself the rest of the time.
It’s a negative feedback loop of the worst kind, and a powerful blocker when it comes to reaching any kind of happiness or self-acceptance. Worse, for some among us, it can be a fast path towards mental health issues.
The Wrong Definition of Happiness
Another huge roadblock for so many people is having the wrong definition of happiness. It’s really not hard to see why this is, especially in a materialistic, consumerist society. We’re repeatedly told that the next product, item of clothing, gadget, car, is the cure for what ails us, and when we finally save up for it and buy it, it turns out to be just another brief shopping high.
That comes down to the hedonistic treadmill. This is a psychological concept which we all fall victim to. It states that no matter what happens in our lives, even if we win the lottery and never really have to work again, we’ll return to previous levels of happiness.
This means that no matter what short-term materialistic or status-orientated mask you put on happiness when you achieve it, it’s going to turn out to be nothing more than shadows and dust. Happiness does not lurk in a nice pair of trainers, a supercar, a promotion or a gorgeous partner, it just doesn’t.
The sooner you accept that, and change your definition of happiness to mean something more accurate, achievable and meaningful, the sooner you’ll be on a path to actual happiness.
Worry has long been known to be less than healthy. Let’s call it by it’s slightly more sinister name; stress. Continually stressing about different elements of your life is a quick route to feeling less than happy, and worse, a quick way to start feeling anxiety and other mental health issues.
While I know there’s no quick way around worry and stress, there are plenty of tricks and lifestyle changes we can all make to help mitigate the effects of stress.
There’s been a million articles written on how to deal with stress, so I won’t go into it here. However, what I will say is that if you’re dealing with stress and worry on a regular basis, and simply suffering without any strategies in place to sort that out, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Lack of Gratitude
Lack of gratitude is a huge problem for so many people nowadays. Without some degree of gratitude, not only are we always going to be dissatisfied with everything in our lives, we’re also going to be disappointed with people around us.
Ungrateful people are unpleasant to be around, as well as unpleasant to be. If you’re ungrateful, it’s time you started thinking about ways to up the gratitude levels in your life.
Out of Control Ego
A little bit of pride can be a great thing, driving us, filling us with self-confidence and self-worth, as well as self-respect. Too much ego is a sign things have gone wrong, and that you might just be overcompensating.
continue to part 2