I am thinking on this topic for quite some time now – how to be happy and what do you really need to be happy – the more I thought about the things that are makings us happy the more I realized that this is a continues process, not such that have a beginning and an end.
We’ve all felt miserable and wished that we should be happy instead. Actually, we feel that we should be happy all the time. Even though this sounds really tempting, it’s simply impossible. You can’t be happy all the time, if you are, you are probably drunk, on drugs or in special hospital wearing straitjacket.
Like every feeling we humans can experience, happiness is a feeling with a beginning and an end. It’s actually better that we can’t be happy all the time. If we were able to, that should also apply to the other feelings known to men – pain, stress, fear, anger, disgust, shame, envy, hatred, hostile, lousy, pathetic. The list is really long and I am most certain that you don’t want to experience the described feelings more often than lives throw at us. Unless you are a masochist and this kind of stuff turn you on.
Why do We want to Be Happy All The Time?
This type of thinking is installed in our minds since we were very little. Our parents thought us that we should strive for a happy, fulfilled live. We were raised with the idea that we should do better than them, have more, be more. In most of the cases not explaining how exactly we should accomplish that but still is something, we should pursue.
Nowadays, this mindset of a happy life is multiplied by 1000. The society is putting on focus people who have it all – luxury cars, jets, money, clothes, contracts, audiences, big houses, vacations to exotic places. Social media help us connect to these people and allow us to see all the things they’ve got. Which in a lot of situations makes us feel miserable. We see other peoples live and we immediately compare ourselves with them. We want, what they want. Until we get it, we feel like shit.
Even though happiness is a feeling, we mainly associate it not with other feelings but with other stuff. In our mind, we think that more good stuff equals more happiness. And it feels actually this way.
Every time I order a book online, or I get one from the local bookstore, I feel extremely excited, thrilled, happy. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new book. I smell it, go through the content and when I have the needed time I start reading it. That feeling last for a couple of hours, then I am back to square one – I want to buy a new book because I believe it will make me feel happy, again.
Stuff = Happiness
We get a pair of jeans – we feel happy. We watch a series of our favorite TV show – we feel happy. We scroll through Facebook, add pictures, comments and get all excited about the replies and the likes we get.
Regardless of the adrenaline rush we get once we do the things described above, soon we are back to our default state – the desire of more happiness, constant happiness. It can be actually worst. We can get quite depressed from the things we don’t have – we didn’t get the other pair of jeans which also looked nice. We didn’t have the time to watch the next episode of our favorite TV show. The picture we posted on Facebook didn’t get the likes we hoped (how sad).
The thing that I am trying to say is that the opposite of the equation: stuff = happiness is not necessarily true. I mean this: more stuff = more happiness; less stuff = less happiness.
You can have more stuff, but that won’t make you happier. You can have less stuff but that doesn’t mean you will be miserable.
Things That Make us Feel Happy
My desire to understand happiness lead me to write down the main things that are making us fell happy. All of the things listed below are based on my observation over my friends, colleagues, people I once met, myself. During the process of writing these stuff down, I saw a pattern between them and a way to separate them into two major categories:
- Material – Stuff that can be obtained primarily with money. They usually give us happiness for a short period of time.
- Non-Material – Feelings, people, experiences that last longer.
Material Things that will make us feel happy
- Money – Thing number one. People all over the world pursue the dollar, yen, euro, or the currency in the country they live in. It’s number one on the list because it can help you get all the other things below. People have died, man has been killed over the power of the dollar.
- House – An apartment or a house is probably the second most desired material thing people want to obtain. Nice cozy house, inside a quiet neighbourhood where you can raise your children. It makes a lot of sense to pursue this thing because it’s not only a place to live, it’s an investment.
- Car – The real reflection of your wealth and social status, well, not always. Some people spend all of their money for a car they can’t really afford.
- New phone – The downside of getting a new phone is the moment when there is a new version of it. Your current phone becomes obsolete and every time you pull it out of your pocket you can’t really stand it.
- Clothes and shoes – We can never have enough clothes. We enjoy our new shirt only the first time we wear it. After that first time, we are again online searching for something fresh. Something that will make Jenny (our best friend) jealous.
- TV, other – Getting a big flat TV, PlayStation, Apple TV and a surround sound system will satisfy a lot of different personalities.
- Hobby thing – Depending on your hobby, you will want to get a particular thing – camera, laptop, bike, drone, board or other stuff.
- Accessories – Earrings, watches, bracelets, chains.
Non-Material Things That Make us Feel Happy
- Love – The feeling of love will surely make us feel happy and fulfilled. Especially when that feeling is mutual. You can experience love towards several people but the most powerful one will (should) be towards your partner, children, and family members.
- Friends, Relationships – People you can always count on and are present in your everyday life.
- Family – Well spent time with our family definitely make us feel better.
- Career – A stable job with decent colleagues will determine how you feel.
- Knowledge – Knowledge will definitely make you feel good.
- Health -Your health is a major part of your happy life.
- Moments – Going on vacation, events, experiencing new moments and doing different stuff like – bungee, jumping with a parachute, riding a motorcycle, going to Bally, Ibiza.
How many of the things above you have or you aim to achieve?
No matter the answer, I am here to disappoint.
Even if you have everything for the above lists – money, car, fame – you still can’t be happy all the time. You will still be looking for more. More clothes, more vacations, more knowledge. Which on one hand is a good thing, on the other will probably only waste your money.
I intentionally skipped something. Probably the thing that will have the greatest impact on your overall happiness. This one thing is being passionate about a something particular. Something with deep meaning.
Passion Towards Something Meaningful = More Happiness
At 25, I moved with my girl to a rental apartment. The place was awful. We took it only because it was cheap. We lived there for 3 years and every day I dreamed of getting our own place.
In 2016 we’ve bought an apartment after saving for a couple of years. I still took a loan from the bank, which I am now returning, but that doesn’t quite matter. What matter is this – this was probably one of my biggest dreams, to have enough income to get an apartment. A place where I and my girl can raise our children and call home.
I spent several months repairing and furnishing the apartment to look exactly how we saw it our imagination. We spend more than we wished but at the end, it was worth it. I was quite happy and fulfilled, for a while. Soon, that feeling disappeared and it was replaced with this one – “Ok, we’ve got what’ve always wanted, now what?”
That’s what happens when you set material things for goals.
The only person who can tell you what you really want from your life, what can really make you feel happy, is you, and you alone. Still, don’t make your primary goal be something material. Because someday, when you get it, you will be in my position, wondering what to do next. Instead, make your primary goal something that will help others.
“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.” ― Calvin Coolidge
Let’s take a look, for example, a famous actor:
Recently I read an interview with one of my favorite actors – Al Pachino. You don’t need to go talk with his accountant to know that he has enough money. From what I know, he has a healthy relationship and three children.
What amazes my in actors is that they still keep acting. Surely they need the money, but at some point is no longer for the money. They can open a restaurant, bar, business and earn a living without the need to put their face on the camera. Still, the ones that are extremely successful and fulfilled, are the ones that continue to do it. Why? Because that’s what they are extremely passionate about.
Their passion, desire to contribute to other people Through some sort of art (the movie they are filming) is the thing that helps them move forward, be happy.
Think about it for a second:
What things, makes you feel happy – is it the new phone you recently bought, or you don’t really care about it anymore? Probably not
To be truly happy and fulfilled – focus most of your time on people and stuff that matter. People you love, people that make you smile. Also, on research, job, career, actions that will make the world a better place.
It does sound a bit like we are in the finals of Miss World, where all of the girls state that they want “World Peace”. But that’s the real deal, my friend. Otherwise, you will be filling your wardrobe and drawers with stuff you don’t really need hoping they will make you happy.