The pursuit of happiness has concerned humankind, likely, since time began, and although we have many more opportunities today than did our ancestors, living has also become infinitely more complex. Life itself remains as simple as it was eons ago, rather, it’s the act of living in this ever-changing world of fast-emerging, disruptive technologies, new social rules brought about through unprecedented inter-connectivity, increasing globalization and rising new economies which is complicated.
Is it any wonder then, in this complicated world that we find ourselves, many people pursue happiness more urgently than ever before? The problem with this, as Victor Frankl put it so eloquently is that happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue. What a wise fellow. Indeed, happiness is one of these things which can be frustratingly elusive when you’re searching for it, and then, like a butterfly landing on your nose on a Summer’s day – suddenly it’s there, all at once, in its’ magnificent – and surprising – glory.
Still (and with due respect to Dr. Frankl) is there anything we can do to coax our flitting friend from his hiding place, to pave the way to happiness, so that when it does come around – of its’ own accord, naturally – it has a clear path to our door?
There just might be; try on some of the following ideas – and who knows, you could be surprised to find yourself smiling when you used to frown.
4 Surprising Ways to be Happier
Stop chasing happiness.
Paradoxically, the harder you pursue happiness, the more elusive it becomes. Or at least that’s how it seems. If you think back to the times when you’ve been the happiest, there’s been a sense of effortlessness about it. In that moment, you weren’t striving to be happy – indeed, you were probably completely absorbed with something else – happiness just kind of snuck up on you. Like an unexpected gift. Absorb yourself in new experiences and activities you love – happiness will find you.
Be happy now.
Achievement is a wonderful thing; getting what you want out of life is sort of awesome too. But making your happiness contingent on circumstances, things or time – that’s a mistake. If you can’t be happy with a little, how will you be happy with a lot? If you can’t be happy now, how will you be happy then? Be happy with the little you have now by deciding to be, regardless of the circumstances.
Realize happiness is transient.
Happiness, like the seasons, comes and it goes; like the tides it ebbs and it flows. The harder you grasp for it, the faster it slips. How many times have you found yourself having a great time and trying to prolong it because you didn’t want it to end? It did end, because that’s the nature of experience – stuff happens and life goes on. And if you try to hold onto it, you’ll be blocking this moments’ happiness from your experience, because you’ll be holding on to something that doesn’t exist anymore – the past. So, enjoy happiness in the moment – revel in it – and then, let it go, to open the door for its return.
Give experiences positive meanings.
It has been said that optimists live in a positive, yet delusional bubble of reality; however, you’ve got to wonder if being ‘right’ about a very subjective reality is better than being a bit crazy, but a lot happier. The latter sounds like a much nicer place to live. So, as a thought experiment, why not try the following: pretend that every circumstance, your current condition, as well as every thing which has happened and is going to (could) happen to you has a positive meaning. Now is it true? Maybe, maybe not – but try it on for size for a month or so – as an experiment – and see what that’s like. When something – good, bad or mundane – happens, give it a positive meaning. An easy way to do this is simply to think that’s good because… and then fill in the blank with at least three reasons.
There you have it, four markedly different ways – understandings, a better term – to help you be happier. Ponder them, then try them out and let us know what you think.