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Editor's Note

Happiness Starts With You: Resisting happiness and how gratitude helps

We go through life doing our best to reach our dreams and our goals. We think that once we’ve achieved success, we’ll finally be happy and at peace with the world. This may be true. However, the simple fact is that not everyone’s going to end up successful. Only a small minority seem to reach the pinnacle of fulfillment and success. Most of us are afraid we’re going to get stuck living mediocre lives. 

So, the question is, does that mean only a small percentage of people are going to live happy lives? Are the rich, powerful and successful the only ones with the right to be happy? The answer is, fortunately, no. You don’t need money nor power to have a happy and fulfilling life. Because, happiness and success is a state of mind.

You can have all the money in the world and still be unhappy. On the other side of the coin, you can have no worldly possessions but still live a very happy life. In this episode, you’re going to learn that your happiness isn’t dependent on money, career, or status in life. It starts with you.

CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE ON THE MERRYMEN PODCAST

When you’re constantly feeling low and you can’t remember the last time you’ve felt happy and free, then you need to figure out why as soon as possible. Getting stuck in an unhappy state is obviously not ideal for any sane person as unhappiness can quickly spiral into depression. Hopefully, it isn’t too late. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out what’s causing your unhappiness.

Are you doing what you want to be doing?

Ask yourself this very important question. If you answer “no,” then what are you doing about it? Are you taking any steps towards the job or career you want? Or, do you feel like you’re trapped in a day job you don’t particularly like, but you stay in it because it pays the bills?

For many people, this is a common dilemma. They know they’re not happy with their current jobs, but they stay in it year in and year out. They may not like it, but they feel like they have no other choice. Over a period of time, their day jobs become their comfort zone. They become afraid of pursuing their passions. If you’re one of them, then you need to figure out how you can free yourself to pursue your interests and your passions in life. In the beginning, you probably didn’t have a lot of say in the matter. Your parents probably didn’t support your dream to become a musician or a professional athlete or an artist. They’ve probably heard horror stories of people who pursued their passions and ended up hungry and homeless. Since you’re too afraid to disobey your parents, you do their bidding and work at a job you dislike.

If this story sounds familiar, or if you’re still trapped in this position, then it’s time to do something about it. Can you not find a way to pursue your passion? What steps are you taking to free yourself of this trap? Your answers will hopefully help you see the light, so you can finally start pursuing the career that will make you happy.

Are your thoughts making you unhappy?

You have a say about what goes on in your mind, that is, you have a choice about the kind of thoughts you allow to run through your head. You can choose to think positively, or you can choose the opposite. If you choose the latter, then obviously, it’s going to make you unhappy.

Of course, you can easily tell yourself to stop thinking negative thoughts. But this is easier said than done. We can bump our heads all we want, and the negative thoughts will still continue in the background. This is literally why some people go crazy. They hear voices, and they can’t stop listening to it no matter what they do. Visualization plays a vital role in overcoming negative thoughts. But it’s also important to be self-aware and to pay attention to your thoughts.

Are you aiming for perfection?

There are lots of things you can be aiming for – perfection isn’t one of them. Why? Because when you set perfection as your ultimate goal, you’re inevitably setting yourself up for failure. Not just any failure, but a catastrophic one at that, especially if you give it your all. Instead of perfection, aim for something more realistic, like excellence, for instance. It’s still higher up on the achievement scale, but at least, it’s more attainable. Not a single one of us is perfect, so why aim for perfection?

Perfection is, to put it bluntly, overrated. When you aim for perfection, you set a bar so high that when you make a single, tiny mistake, it can cause everything you’ve worked so hard for to crumble. When you aim for excellence, however, you give yourself a fighting chance to succeed. You’re not going to be scared to go out there and make a fool of yourself because you know your chances of making it are good. You use your mistakes and your failures as learning experiences.

And the other benefit of aiming for excellence?

You’ve always got some more room to grow! You can be the best performer at work, in school, or your sport, and still have the opportunity to do even better next time. Once you’ve figured out why you’re unhappy, you’ll be able to move forward and finally be on the path to creating happiness in your life.

When your unhappiness is eating away at your soul, and you think everything you have is going to waste, think again. Look around you. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? When was the last time you looked at the sky? Like, really looked at it? Can you appreciate the sound of leaves rustling in the wind? Or the feel of grass on your bare feet?

Now, imagine having all these taken away from you. Imagine losing your vision, your hearing, your sense of touch, your sense of taste, and your sense of smell. Take a moment to reflect on what you’re missing out on.

Imagine spending the rest of your life without all of your senses. It’s extremely hard, isn’t it? You’d probably be driven to end your life right then and there because life as you know it has ended. Your life will never be the same again.

Fortunately, the above is just an exercise. But a powerful one at that. I hope it made you see just how trivial all your problems are compared to having everything – literally everything – taken away from you.

Here are 10 things you should appreciate in life:

1. Life
Every day you wake up, you’re given another lease in life. You have a new opportunity to start your life anew, to make amends, to make an impact in this world. Instead of trudging through your day as though you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, try to live each day as though it were your last. Every single day you live like this is going to be your best day ever!

2. Family
No matter how busy life gets, always find the time to connect with your family. Your parents gave life to you, without them you’ll be nothing. If you have siblings, learn to appreciate them as well. If you have extended family, spend quality time with them as well. Everyone in your family helped shape you to become the person you are today.

3. Friendship
Having friends you can count on is important. You have someone to share your thoughts and your feelings with. They can improve your life, and likewise, you can help enrich theirs as well. Have meaningful conversations with your friends.

4. Health
Good health often goes unacknowledged. Learn to take good care of your body. We’re only reminded to be grateful for our health when illness befalls us. Even the tiniest pain can inconvenience us greatly, more so serious and critical illnesses.

5. Love
Whether it’s romantic or platonic love, self or selfless love, the saying “love makes the world go round” holds plenty of wisdom. Love makes you come alive. It motivates you to get out of bed early, to walk with a spring in your step, to smile and laugh more often, and many other positive changes.

6. Laughter
There’s a lot of things to laugh about in this life, no matter how bad you think it’s become. Laughter has plenty of benefits, including making you healthier. When you laugh, you reduce your stress levels. When you share a laugh with another person, you immediately feel a bond with that person.

7. Tears
Tears may be seen negatively, but it’s not all that bad. Sometimes, tears are necessary. It helps put things in perspective. It helps you appreciate life and laughter even more.

8. Nature
While there’s less of nature now than there was a few millennia ago, there’s still plenty left to appreciate. Even if you live in an urban jungle, you can still take some time to admire mother nature. Appreciate the greenness that plants and trees bring. Look at the animals grazing on grass. Observe and be amazed at how nature takes back what’s hers in abandoned places.

9. Time
We don’t have an infinite supply of time. The truth is, the moment we’re born, our bodies start counting down how much time we have left. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to end, which is why we can’t let trivial problems in life bring us down. Let’s enjoy the limited amount of time we have here on this planet.

10. Yourself
Yes, you. Learn to appreciate yourself. You’re not perfect, nobody is. But you’ve come a long way since your mother gave birth to you. Think about all your successes and your failures, your hopes, and your dreams. Then think about the people you’ve met along the way, how you’ve helped them in one way or another. Think about the legacy you’re going to leave behind.

Learn to appreciate everything you have in your life – both good and bad. In the end, they all come together to provide a unique life experience that’s meant to challenge you and bring out the best in you. When you stop worrying about everything and start appreciating every little thing in life, your happiness will become apparent, not just to yourself, but to everyone around you, too.

Your happiness begins with you. If you’re in an unhappy state right now, look deep within you for answers. Figure out why you’re unhappy and from there, look into improving yourself and building more positive relationships with others. Learn to love yourself and make yourself happy first. It’s going to be hard making others happy if you can’t even be happy yourself. Make the right choices and the right decisions. Start by replacing your bad habits with positive ones. Make an effort to be happy and learn how to maintain that happiness in the face of trials and tribulations – your road to ‘happily ever after’ has just begun.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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