This post is a sneak peek into my book “The Tao of Happiness” .
Are you happy?
That is the one and only question I ask the people I love when they are in doubt, have to make a decision, analyze their relationship, understand whether something is right for them and what they should do about it.
I simply ask them if they are happy. And depending on the answer, I let them make the conclusion and decide what is the best thing to do.
I don’t want to interfere, because the answer is somewhere inside them. I just try to help them find it. Sometimes it’s right in front of their eyes.
Isn’t that the right question for everything?
If you’re not happy with someone, then there is no point in keeping that relationship. If you’re not happy with your job, quit. If you’re happy with the body you have and don’t want to do anything to change it, okay then.
It’s all about whether it makes you happy or not. That’s the ultimate technique when in doubt or have to make an important decision.
The problem, however, is that most of us don’t really know how to be happy. We may try to find happiness, to fix our current situation, or to change things. But eventually we find ourselves in the same old state – wondering if we’re happy.
I think it’s because we tend to make a few crucial mistakes when it comes down to happiness.
5 Happiness Mistakes (And What to Do Instead)
1. Too much effort.
People think they need to do something in order to be happy. Then they start working too hard, pushing themselves to the limit, expecting too much, waiting for happiness to come and so on.
That is so wrong.
At some point you’ll realize you’ve spent a lifetime trying to reach a certain state when it was in front of your eyes for the whole time.
The beauty of happiness is that you feel perfect because you’re okay with everything, you’re grateful, things are easy and just the way they should be.
So you don’t need to make any extra effort, to put too much pressure in what you do or to make it hard and complex.
Instead, look around. If you let go of all the pressure you’ve brought in your life things might just get better.
2. It’s a destination.
Many people think happiness is a goal, a destination, something that is out there but which they will reach in the future. And they think they will feel great when they find it and reach that goal and everything will be just fine.
But it’s not. Because the future never comes. Or if you had some kind of a deadline, when you reach it, things just wouldn’t be what you expected. We will then be aiming at something else and satisfaction will never come.
We forget that happiness is now. Right here. And nothing will be different even after a decade if we still remain blind for what we have.
Happiness doesn’t depend on goals. And when you connect it with something in the future, you’re denying that it’s now.
What you need to do is stop making so many goals and plans, to spend less time in the future, and to live more in the present moment. Because happiness is right here and right now. It’s your choice whether you’ll open your eyes for it and enjoy it or let it go.
3. It’s in outer stimulus.
You try to raise your level of happiness by buying stuff, going to different places, going out, having one relationship after another.
Or worse – by overeating, alcohol, drugs, online life, etc.
And it may work for a while. But after that don’t you feel an even bigger void inside of you? Don’t you want to fill it with even more of what you usually do?
That’s a self-destructive behavior. The thing is that you will never feel better for real unless you realize you need to make some changes on the inside.
Happiness is an inner state. It doesn’t really matter what we have, do, who we meet and how we fill our time. The only important thing that defines our happiness (or the lack of it) is how we react to things, what our attitude towards life is, if we enjoy it, if we are in harmony with ourselves and full of appreciation and positivity.
4. Always on the go.
The normal way to live these days is to be always busy, in a hurry, with no time. The streets are full of people who are literally running from one place to another.
Now imagine someone on these same streets who is walking slowly, with a smile on his face, breathing deeply and just looking around. We would probably think he’s insane, right?
The truth is that he’s happy, while all the other people that are in a hurry, are not. Because they just don’t have the time to stop and feel this way.
Happiness doesn’t mean you need to do something. Most of the things we’re busy with are just commitments and tasks we think we need to do, when actually we don’t. Because even if we don’t do them, the world wouldn’t come to an end.
So my advice is to slow down and enjoy life more. I’m talking about all these little things around you, people you love, daily activities and things you like doing. Find contentment in living slowly and take your time.
5. Follow the rules.
These people – the same that are always busy and going somewhere – think that they need to work hard in order to have money, so that they can buy stuff, and probably … be happy with all that at some point.
They go by the rules. But who invented those rules? And where are they leading us?
It is said that we need to do this, say that and behave in a certain way. “Authorities” and “experts” even go so far that they tell us when exactly to do everything and in what amount so that we can be happy.
And the result is that we need to sleep a certain number of hours, go to bed and wake up at a certain time, have a degree in something, then find a job in this field and spend years sitting behind a desk, marry at a certain age, and so on, and so on.
From my observations, people who strictly follow these rules aren’t happy. They are always seeking for the great balance between life and work, work and family, studying and social life, relationship and friends. And they want to control all these areas in their life so that things can be predictable and just as they’re supposed to be. They also loose themselves in their desire for security.
And because they’ve always been perfect in everything, society expects them to remain so. And this is huge pressure for someone because he can’t do what he wants, he can’t take spontaneous decisions or even try new things.
I don’t really want to live that way. If you ask me, happiness is more of a whim rather than a strict plan on how to live every day of your life.
So do what you enjoy, eliminate the things that don’t make you happy and don’t live by someone else’s standard. People will always criticize you and following conventional wisdom and rules will rarely take you somewhere in life.
And anyways, what’s the point of doing anything if it doesn’t make you happy?
Instead, embrace simplicity. Find joy in this very moment and appreciate everything around you. Life is beautiful and you’re happy. You just need to let go of everything else that is not essential so that you can see it and feel it.