I haven’t really put so much thought on happiness until a couple of years back. Well, I have always wanted to be happy of course, but I never thought of it in a way that I’m doing things because it makes my life happy or for me to have a sense of fulfillment and meaning. It’s more like I’m doing things because it’s the right thing to do, it’s what is expected of me or it’s the best option I have. All those years, I just went with the flow, picked the opportunity that has the most benefits and worked on getting that successful future that we all envisioned to have. Then, I turned 30. And suddenly I felt like time was passing by faster than I imagined. Call it a midlife crisis or whatnot. But I took a moment and assessed my happiness level in life.
I started asking myself.
And yes! I felt like I was just overthinking. But I realized a few things and learned a few more as I was looking back and forward. And it hit me. I need to make changes in my perspective towards happiness. It is not just the absence of sadness and tears. It should be something I have to put emphasis on if I want to have a fulfilling and meaningful life.
I now choose to do things, not because it’s what is best for me but because it brings me happiness and fulfillment. It sounds very simple, but it was not an easy transition. A lot of plans need to change; plans that have been in place for years. And with that, sometimes it even felt like I’m starting from scratch. Not to mention the fact that happiness is intangible, so when I explain these changes of plans to others, I somehow get the feeling that they can’t grasp the idea I’m trying to put across. But here are a few core concepts that have liberated me from being just someone who follows that standard line.
1. Decide to be Happy
This is where we have to dig deep and answer the questions: What makes me happy? What do I want to do? What do I want to experience and do more? And the first step is just to go for it. It seems really easy to say, but it’s not. A lot of times, the things that make us happy comes with a number of risks that we are afraid to take and a lot of hard work that we prefer not to go through. When we make a decision, we sometimes don’t base it on what really brings us happiness, but on what is more convenient and practical. We often choose what’s comfortable and safe even if it’s not really what we want, but just because it’s the easiest choice to make. And sometimes, we mistake comfort with happiness.
But you have to ask yourself:
Coz you don’t deserve to just settle. Yes, It’s good to be contented. That is also one key to happiness. But being content with what you have just because you are too afraid to do what really makes you happy is a totally different thing.
We can’t really be sure about anything. Life itself is full of uncertainties. If we don’t go for it, we will never know. We can have a long list of all the things that could possibly go wrong, but what if it goes right? Then we could have missed the opportunity of being genuinely happy. The most amazing experiences in life do not come easy, but for sure, it’s going to be totally worth it. So decide to go for what makes your heart happy.
2. Your happiness should not be dependent on other people.
We can all agree that our life decisions can easily be affected by how other people act or react. And we’ve all been in a situation where we want to do something for ourselves but decides not to because we think about how other people would think and feel about that decision. We don’t want to be selfish, and at the same time, we don’t want to be judged when what we want isn’t what is acceptable for some.
But remember this:
You don’t have to do things just because it’s what is expected of you. I know that it’s very easy to do the things that we think others expect from us or want from us. But doing something out of the norm doesn’t make you a bad person. It just meant you have a different opinion and perspective in life. And you should not be ashamed of that.
And you don’t have to be someone you are not just to please others, or to be loved. A lot of times, we see self-empowerment quotes telling us to love ourselves. And loving ourselves is not just all about self-care, self-pampering, or spending time with ourselves through travel. Loving yourself is allowing yourself to be YOU. We owe it to ourselves to fight for our own happiness regardless if people disagree with our point of view.
3. Your happiness is not someone else’s responsibility.
IT IS YOURS! Yes, people who love you would want to make you happy, they may even want to give you the world. But what makes you happy may not always be within their capacity. Or it may not even be in line with what makes THEM happy. Don’t feel bad when someone chooses to pursue their life goals instead of prioritizing yours. It does not mean you are less important or less loved. It doesn’t also mean the person is being selfish.
And we should all respect that. Don’t let other people choose your happiness over theirs even if it’s something that they are very much willing to do. Support them to freely work on what makes them happy whatever it might be, while you work on yours. I’m not saying you have to do it alone. Along the way, you will need other people. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t wait around for someone to get you what your heart desires. Own it, take responsibility and do it yourself. And I tell you, it will be much more fulfilling.
4. Happiness is here and now.
We sometimes find ourselves treating happiness as a long term goal to achieve or as an ultimate destination, in which we can finally be happy once we attain it. We may say, “I will be happy when I become a doctor”, ” I will be happy when I have my dream house.”, or “If I get promoted, then I will be happy”. We often focus on our goals in life as a way for us to move forward and give us purpose. And there is nothing wrong with that. But happiness is not just about the destination but also about the journey. Find your happiness here and now, with what you have. It should not be all about the destination.
When we focus too much on things far away, everything up close gets blurry. Let’s not lose focus on the things that can make us happy now just because we are too busy with what we can have in the future.
People may tell us what’s best for us, and maybe they are right. But the reality is, they don’t really know for sure. Everything they’re telling us is based on what they’ve learned from their own experiences or what they’ve seen around them. From that, they derived a path with the least hardships and least heartaches that can lead us to the best future. But it is still mostly subjective. And even if they are right and it is really what is best for us, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make us happy. Coz even the best future with the best job and the most comfortable life does not equate to happiness.