What is happiness? How would you describe the feeling of happiness?
It doesn’t matter if you grew up with royalty or grew up without a shirt on your back; the true meaning of happiness and what triggers it varies from person to person.
Although nobody can tell you how to be happy, there are some things that will keep you from achieving happiness. When I talk about being content and joyful, I mean the type that you really feel for the long-run, not the short bursts that can leave you feeling a bit lost afterward.
1. Happiness Revolving Around Materialistic Goods
Can you describe the feeling when you first buy a new phone? Is it joy, excitement or elation? The moment you purchase that phone, it becomes your life. You devote long hours to adjust the settings to your liking, you transfer photos/music from your old to your new, and your heart skips a beat the moment the phone slips from your hand.
But what happens after a couple of days, or weeks, or even months?
That initial feeling of giddiness is now gone. The phone still works, but you become so accustomed to this phone that it no longer provides the same emotions that it did when you first bought it. Before you know it, you couldn’t care less if you dropped it and you’re already looking into upgrading to the next model.
This was the endless cycle that I once went through when I was younger. I was stuck in the mindset of “keeping up with the Joneses” and I was tying my identity, self-worth, and happiness around these materialistic goods.
I spent my time working to my bones while making minimum wage to save up for that expensive $550 Louis Vuitton wallet (my wallet was worth more than what was inside my bank account). The feeling of swiping my debit card and unboxing my brand new wallet felt great! but eventually, the wallet wasn’t enough. I needed the belt. Next came the jacket. Before I knew, I was spending my entire savings on luxurious goods that didn’t mean anything other than the name on the tag.
There’s an argument that money cannot buy happiness, but there are some people out there that feel confident when they are flaunting the newest name brand accessories. For me personally, I don’t see materialistic goods equalling out to being content. To me, happiness should come from the experiences you have in life and the relationships you make along the way.
Check out my blog post on minimalism where this change in lifestyle helped me discover happiness without the use of material items. Minimalism post
2. Believing you will be happy when you’ve reached “success”
Everyone has a different meaning of success, but if there’s one thing that is certain is that many people say they will truly be happy when they become successful.
They grind and grind until eventually, they cross the finish line. Their business is booming and they have all the money in the world. Yet, something was missing. That feeling of fulfillment, joy, and happiness. Where is it?
Too many people focus on the end goal. They are in a mindset where sometimes, selfishly, they don’t want anything to do with anything else but their own dreams and their own ideas of success. What is the point of being successful and having money when there is no one to celebrate it with? I understand that work takes up a lot of people’s free time. I understand that, ultimately, these are your goals and this is your future, but don’t lose the meaning of life along the way.
Some people think that happiness only awaits them at the end of the road, but that’s untrue. Happiness can come from the journey, where you enjoy the adventure, the experience, and the people met along the way. The hustle can last years and even decades, so you might as well enjoy it!
Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success – Albert Schweitzer
3. Not pursuing your passions
Many people are working their life away at a place where they are unhappy. Working solely in order to pay the bills, take care of loved ones, or to support their lifestyle. Whatever the reason is, they’re wasting a good chunk of their life doing something they don’t enjoy.
This is your life: you are the captain of this ship, you choose where you want to work and what you want to do.
Check out my blog post where I talk about the 3 Signs that you should quit your job.
I was stuck in this rat race where I was working as a junior accountant simply because my parents wanted me to. The money was good and I was working in the same field as what I was studying in college. A lot of people would say I hit the jackpot because I was able to land a job before receiving my diploma.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a jackpot. It was a one-way ticket to hell because I was depressed and miserable. I was working with people who I couldn’t interact with, I had a boss who had no respect for others, and the job itself was so goddamn boring. Even the building itself was depressing (so old and sketchy).
I was unhappy every morning because I had no passion for what I was doing as a career. Telling someone that I entered numbers into a computer for a living was nothing to gloat about if I didn’t care about it. That was simply a career that didn’t work out for me, which is why I decided to quit and chose to do what motivates me and drives my passion.
It’s pretty simple when you think about it: you cannot be happy when your everyday life fills you with absolute misery. Work is a big part of everyone’s life, and it influences your emotions pretty deeply. Ever had a bad shift at work? Usually, that bad shift turns into a bad day, and then you feel worse knowing you have to face it all over again. Finding a job that you love won’t solve all your life’s problems, but it’s a good place to start.
4. Thinking about “living in the moment”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery…” yadda yadda..
Don’t let your actions today be detrimental to your future. How many people do you know that constantly party like there’s no tomorrow? (*cough cough my obnoxious neighbor and her friends who always keep me up at night*)
Do whatever you please with your life, but how is your future looking? Are you financially stable? Do you have emergency funds to fall back on? Is your career taking off? Are you learning new things? What are you doing today that will make people remember you when you’re dead?
I for one was caught in this mindset for a few years after high school. My friends and I would party and rave every week; not giving a damn in the world and just having the time of our lives. Eventually, I began to realize that this had no positive impact on my life. I wasn’t gaining anything from it except massive hangovers. I decided to distance myself from this crowd to truly focus on what I needed to do in order to make myself feel fulfilled.
It took me months of being alone to really reconnect myself and to figure out what I was doing with my life. I hit a bump in the road and it was time to get back on track.
If you want to be happy then you need balance in your life, one where it will benefit your future while still allowing you to enjoy yourself in the moment. If you’re carelessly cruising through life without planning where you will be going then that’s one easy ticket to rock-bottom.
5. Neglecting close relationships with friends and family
We all need close family and friends in order to keep us from being lonely. You can have all the money in the world, but what good is being rich if you don’t have anyone to enjoy it with?
We as human beings need interactions with others in order to keep us from going insane. I know this because I once worked in a warehouse where I was underground and disconnected for 8 hours from the outside world. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in prison. The lack of interaction slowly makes the person go insane; you might not realize it as acutely as someone who spends 23 hours a day alone with their thoughts, but eventually, you will notice the detrimental effects.
I learned this the hard way because as I mentioned above, the friends who I once hung out with could no longer relate on the same topics. Things had changed. Sorry, let me rephrase that, I had changed. I no longer enjoyed the same hobbies as they did. I wanted to do something that would benefit my future rather than rotting my life away at the club every night.
Eventually, conversations became dry and a majority of them went their own ways, but only a few still remain in my life. Does it suck? It doesn’t. Growing up, I learned that it’s not about the number of pennies you have, but more about the quarters and dollars.
So what am I getting at by telling you my lonesome story? Happiness can come from the healthy interactions among your close relationships. No matter how busy you are in life, don’t neglect your close friends and family. Always try to make the time for them because no matter how successful you are, you will never be able to experience true happiness without true relationships.