Finding happiness is somewhat of a paradox.
“The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase, if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.”
-C. P. Snow
It would seem that finding happiness is somewhat like finding love, or the wind. We can feel it and even see it, but how do we actually go about finding it? Happiness is an emotion or state of being in that it is manifested within ourselves as a result of our experiences. Many times we may associate happiness with an external stimuli or interaction with someone or something. When in reality, happiness actually comes from within us as an emotional state of being. So how do we go about finding happiness within ourselves?
In order to have inner happiness, we must first be at peace with who we are and our place in the world. This peace comes with living up to the highest ideals we have for ourselves. Often, when we fall short of this ideal self, we experience unhappiness in the form of depression or low self-esteem. Therefore, getting to a place of self-acceptance is an important step to finding happiness.
Self-acceptance can be a hard journey to undertake. Especially with the fear of what we may find looming over our heads. However, if we’re serious about finding inner happiness we must travel this road and work at accepting ourselves as best we can.
I heard someone say once that serenity comes when we learn to accept the consequences of being ourselves. The fact is, we’re “human” as they say, and as such we’re fallible and prone to make mistakes and miss our ideal self. If we’re to find happiness, we must at least try to do the best we can and learn to be content with our best. Even when we fall short, we must remind ourselves about the difficulty of the task and avoid constant self-discouragement.
Start listening to the inner-voice that is constantly telling you whether you can or cannot do something. Does the voice sound like it could come from your best friend? Think about how you would encourage a close friend to keep trying and doing their best. Is that the voice you hear talking to you when you fall short? If not, trying reminding yourself that you ARE doing your best, and if you’re not, step it up a little and start out small. Avoid trying to change your entire life in a few short days or weeks. Remember, it took years to form the person you are today, finding inner happiness cannot happen over night.
Finding happiness in yourself comes with practice and hard work. Always remember to be your own best friend and biggest fan! The world is tough enough on many of us so don’t add to the negativity by constantly berating yourself.
I often find myself talking down to me when I do something stupid or “think” is stupid. Luckily for me, my wife is also my biggest fan. When she over hears me talking to myself in a negative manner, she’ll often say, “hey, don’t talk to my friend that way.” It’s a good reminder of how I see myself. And just think, for all the times we don’t verbally talk down to ourselves our mind is constantly talking to us.
Instead of thinking about finding happiness, turn your thoughts to finding self-acceptance. Self-acceptance comes through learning what you are actually capable of doing and keeping the expectations of yourself realistic. I’m guilty of often placing too high expectations of myself and often those around me. I’ve gotten much better at this through the years however, and consequently, my happiness level has increased dramatically.
An example of expectations I set for myself was when I recently finished my MBA. I hadn’t really thought a whole lot about my grades, but knew I had gotten a lot of A’s. Towards the end I actually realized the possibility of finishing with a perfect 4.0. I started to panic and putting way too much pressure on myself. I was looking farther ahead then I had been to get to that point. In the past, looking too far ahead often got me into trouble, in that the tasks at hand seemed overwhelming and often caused me to quit or fail before I even gave myself a chance. In the end, I got back to the process that had gotten me to that point and did finish with a perfect grade. For me, that means breaking my tasks down to manageable portions. Specifically with school, I seldom looked farther than one week in advance; concentrating on just the things I need to do for that week and using an online task list to keep track. By breaking the tasks down to things I knew I could manage, I got a weekly feeling of inner happiness; a little victory each and every week.
In getting back to finding inner happiness, try breaking down some of the ideal traits and goals you have for yourself to a weekly or daily list. This can help you have a daily success story and find happiness in what you’ve accomplished each and every day. Remember, however, to keep the tasks manageable and avoid being too hard on yourself if you fall short. If you find you’re constantly falling short, maybe you need to break your goals down to smaller pieces; putting pieces in the right order that may be dependent on one or the other.
Instead of striving toward finding happiness, strive for self-acceptance and building a healthy, loving, personal relationship with you. You’ll soon find happiness will find you!