Have you ever wondered how to live life to the fullest, how to enjoy life? The passing of time is usually associated with progress, the hope for the future and the desire to achieve something greater, better and grander is embedded within human nature.
The hustle, bustle and stride of today’s life is hard to keep pace with. Waking up at 6:30 am, commuting 2 hours to a job that takes most of a person’s 24-hour day – isn’t this how the story goes for the most of us in today’s time? What is happiness? And what do we know about finding happiness?
The Recipe for Happiness
Think about the time when you were in school, what did you aspire to be?
An astronaut, a teacher, a doctor, a zookeeper, a librarian, a firefighter? The opportunities back then seemed endless and nothing seemed impossible.
However, as we grow older and come to understand the realities of life, the hard truth hits – becoming a firefighter holds a greater probability of being exposed to harm, taking up a job as a zookeeper will not pay the bills, a librarian is a thankless job with no longer growth prospects.
As these realisations hit, we gradually start letting go to the dreams we held so dearly in our childhoods.
Some of us do manage to break free from the mould, but where does life take most of us? In the cubicle of an office where a 9 to 5 job from Monday to Friday acts as a source of stability and a bleak promise of something ‘better’ (read promotion or increment).
Isn’t it unfortunate how the good things in life become replaced with mediocrity as time flies by, why does the hope of something better dwindle as reality bites? Do we not write our own stories, the way we were taught in school? Do we forget how to be happy and how to live a happy life?
A monotonous routine is perhaps a nail in the coffin of aspirations and science proves it. A brain that is sentenced to a life of 9 to 5 and instructed to wake up, work, eat, sleep and repeat essentially shuts itself down.
Just think about it, if you sleep one day with a checklist of things to do tomorrow at work, where does it leave the time to unleash your creative side in the most unexpected moments.
A rigid routine comprises of performing a series of tasks within a given time frame, this hinders the opportunity for unexpected bursts of creativity because the brain is prepared to perform 123 and XYZ without even questioning the motivations behind the completion of these tasks.
Every year, millions of 20-somethings will graduate from university with the hope of making it big – but the question arises, what is it that one has to achieve in order to ‘make it big’.
How does society define the paradigms of success and failure, does this concept apply to everyone?
Humans are not clones but our differences are what define us, research has proven that even identical twins can have varying personalities.
From the day we are born everyone has a different life story, to begin with, despite similarity in circumstances or situations, there comes a point in our life when are expected to make choices that can shape our prosperous future and not everyone achieves this future by following the same path.
Everyone has unique personality traits, which align with a specific career, therefore, the typical 9 to 5 job or the 8-hour workday is not for everyone.
A business graduate who enters university with the hopes of pursuing an MBA degree and entering a multinational company to make big bucks may not have the personality to adhere to a routine, maybe that individual appreciates flexibility or perhaps their creative quotient is driven by procrastination.
However, these creative energies could be lost and eventually die out in a controlled environment. So what we assume to be the source of a happy life may actually lead to regret or deep questioning about one’s career choices.
While chasing the notion of ‘ideals’ and ‘perfect’ it is possible to lose the essence of what constitutes a happy life and how to be happy. The real journey towards happiness begins by truly realising what sparks your energy or gives you meaning.
Happiness Does Not Equate to Money
As the old adage goes, material things cannot teach a person how to be happy in life. As research indicates, many developing countries have made their way on top of the ‘Happiness Index’ with a majority of the population reporting a higher level of inner satisfaction as compared to their Western counterparts.
Prevalence of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are also not rampant in such nations which essentially indicates that money or material things are not what enables a person to enjoy life.
Yes…! Money may make life comfortable but if in the process of the acquisition of those material things, a person has to let go of much of their time, forgo personal relationships and pursue something that does not really inspire them, then how does it serve the purpose of achieving happiness in any way?
The feeling of pleasure and contentment can indeed come from the small things. Seeing your parents smile, hugging someone you love or feeling the rainfall on the palm of your hands are life’s free pleasures. They do not come from a price nor are they taxed.
Unfortunately, in the midst of a competitive life, it becomes impossible to take a step back and experience the beauty of these feelings.
Think about it, with much of the day spent at work and commuting to pay the bills, who even has the time to take a step back, look at the nature around you or even take out two minutes from our lives to smell the roses?
The Meaning of Success
When your parents pushed you to do well in school, what was the ultimate motive behind all your hard work…?
Was it to become a better human being, pursue something you always wanted or to be happy later in life?
Most likely, these were not the reasons why you were pushed to do well in school. Performing well in school means ending up at a good college, graduating with a high CGPA, impressing prospective employers and landing a job that pays well.
The result is what society traditionally defines as ‘successes. However, with the way, our minds function and respond to different elements within the environment, not everyone is set out to adhere to this model of success. Perhaps some people are, but most aren’t.
This is precisely what is wrong with society’s definition of success. It is too narrow and even shallow.
When an individual decides, to pursue interests or career choices that are not too challenging, less risky or ‘too soft’ it is easy to label him or her as being lazy or less ambitious. To enjoy life is to make more money but what about someone who does not feel content being boxed in this view?
To break this mould, it is imperative to redefine the meaning of success based on what it means to you. What do you want to ultimately achieve in life?
What are your vision and purpose? Most successful people in today’s world are those who had these questions answered, money was a mere consequence of success but never an end goal.
Challenging the status quo has never been easy, but the true visionaries of our time have been those that have moved beyond the expectations of society and that is perhaps what can truly lead to success. (Check)
Your Purpose is Never Too Small
There are many women who truly value motherhood and believe in it to be their ultimate goal in life, they believe that in order to enjoy your life a family is all one needs and other things come second.
However, these women are always afraid to speak freely about their desires in social circles due to the fear of being judged for having ‘small dreams’.
They say motherhood is the definitive sacrifice but in a society where ambition means everything such dreams are often trampled upon or ridiculed.
However, the truth is a purpose, when possessed for the attainment of positive consequences is never too small. Everyone is set out to play their role in the world, who are we to judge how big or small that role is?
As we ponder deeper into the question of how to be happy in life, it is imperative to stop judging others for their purpose or goals. Nevertheless, it is definitely easier to come to this realisation as an individual that while it is not possible to change the perception of everyone, it is possible to have faith in one’s purpose.
Everyone has a Different Purpose
Ever wonder if everyone’s purpose were the same then how would we have brilliant minds in every field? There cannot be two Steve Jobs or three Elon Musks. Someone has to find the cure for cancer rather than developing a prototype of an electric car or developing a colony on the moon.
It is normal to have idols and seek inspiration from them but don’t we all abhor fakes and appreciate originality? A novel idea is well respected for introducing a new way to live or for making life easier, replicas become unknowns in a very short period of time and disappear into the background before anyone even realises it.
Let’s apply this example to the rage of today – Big Data. Each year, many students in the class which graduate four years from now will open up a certain page on Forbes magazine – “The Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs for 20XX), for today’s class this job is Data Scientist or Data Analyst.
Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon of getting a degree in this field, how many have actually explored whether this is a truly good career fit? (Source)
As followers of trends and fads, perhaps this generation is the most prone to this problem. The issue of producing clones. Originality is what has taken the human civilisation forward. Therefore, to enjoy your life, one must strive to do something they are best in rather than joining the cause.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
This is perhaps the easiest thing one can do in order to be happy, but it is also the hardest. Since our childhoods, we are taught to follow a set benchmark or ideal position.
From the grading system in schools to the promotion system in the workplace, haven’t we been ranked all our lives?
In school, the straight A’s student was the pinnacle of success, a student everyone aspired to be. In college, the 4.0 GPA was worshipped as the epitome of success, while the workplace taught us to aspire to be in the higher level of the hierarchy.
Amidst this competitive mindset, it becomes difficult to take a step back and count your own blessings. We are constantly taught to compare ourselves to those who have something bigger, better and shinier.
Let’s say someone becomes CEO of a company at 25 but passes away in a car accident at 30, while someone else becomes the CEO of a company at 45 but continues to lead the company till their retirement. The point being, everyone has their own pace, their own life story and their own circumstances.
It is easy to stand back and count what you do not have rather than what you have, it is human nature to compete and want the best for ourselves and those we love but the true winners are those that learn to enjoy life and be happy with what they have been given.
If life is a game of survival in the jungle, won’t those who know how to make the most of the limited resources survive the longest?
Take a Step Back, Introspect and Reflect
Today’s generation is perhaps the most connected cohort of individuals to have been born in any of the epochs. The platform of social media is unique, exciting and complex at the same time. It has connected billions of individuals on a single platform and allowed others to easily view the models of what is deemed as a perfect life.
In this environment, it is even easier to get swayed away by the fantasies supported by the ‘Rich Kids of Instagram’ or models with jet-setting lifestyles.
Perhaps you strive to have a life like someone else on social media, but is it what you truly what? Is it the end goal? Will this achievement leave you with zero regrets once you depart from this world?
Perhaps it would, but the likelihood is that it won’t – much of what we see on social media on how to enjoy your life is a façade. It is all about the angles, the filters and the missing backstories of pictures posted by people we do not know.
If material possessions could offer happiness, then the rich would never get depressed. Therefore, as you delve into your mission to answer the question of how to live a happy life, give some time to yourself and think what you really want and what you have always wanted.
The Recipe for Happiness
“How to be happy in life?” – It is indeed one of the greatest unanswered mysteries of all. Given that the entirety of our life’s actions is planned around, seeking that feeling of happiness, contentment and satiation it is unfortunate how happiness eludes most of us in today’s world.
In simpler times, a conundrum that could be solved with simple gestures of kindness but now it has transformed into something many cannot answer.
The key point here is that happiness is what you define it. It is different for everyone, and there is not a list you must fulfil in order to experience an emotion that makes you feel complete. Happiness is a journey that takes you places but ultimately depends on how you feel inside.
Rather than blindly following how others have defined this word, it is never too late to embark on your own journey to explore what makes you feel alive.
Everyone has a unique perspective with which they view things, your notion of happiness may vary from the other person but once you know what it is – the sky would be your limit.
In a fast paced, blinding and cutthroat world, it has become more important than ever for people to realise that following false notions of happiness is not only harmful but also emotionally damaging. Only you define what makes you happy in life, so go ahead and chase the dreams you had as a child – impossible is nothing…!
Best Wishes, HapTips Team!