We live a life of countless possibilities, both good and bad. Sad to say, most people tend to see only the gloomy side of their everyday lives, while only a few appreciate the true beauty of living.
In fact, a study was conducted in 1950s where Americans were asked if they were happy, and a surprising 53 percent said yes. But when the same study was made in the 1990s, the number dropped to 30 percent.
But it isn’t really that surprising. We make a lot of choices in life—the job we apply for, the career path we take, the partner we want to live with. While these decisions are supposed to make us grow for the better, they end up taking a toll on our lives, making it little harder.
According to Barry Schwartz, PhD, in his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, “The more options you have, the higher your expectations; and when your expectations are sky-high, you’re destined for disappointment . . . no matter how good things get.”
If even our life choices are are not making us happy, then what will? Will going back to the life where we don’t have to make any decision help? You might think it will because you know that your parents had little choices to make when they were young and now they’re living a good life, but don’t you think the world a decade before is different from what it is at present?
The path to happiness is not just about what makes people happy before and what works now; it’s a mix of both. What are they? Know seven of them below.
1. Spend time with people
No man is an island. That proverb is centuries old, but it still holds true. Surviving life is like a one-man mission, a task you have to complete yourself, but it doesn’t mean you need to cage yourself in a room and do your own thing till you die. Remember Carrie from the Sex and the City? She went through a lot, but she was still happy, and it’s all because she had Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda in her life.
Author of the The 100 Simple Secrets if Happy People, David Niven, PhD, says, “Friendship is one of life’s main joys. Spending time with people who really know you affords you the freedom to be yourself, which increases contentment.”
It doesn’t happen easily though. Like any other relationship, friendship needs nurturing. To start, you need to open up about yourself. Niven added, “Once you reveal more of yourself and see that these friends accept you for who you really are, you’ll feel connected and therefore happier.”
2. Have a dose of those dangerous but exciting adventures
You ought to choose between a life that is safe but boring or one that is a little dangerous but exciting. At some point, when you’re down in the dumps, one way to save yourself is to recall those times where you went out on a crazy adventure with your friends.
3. Say farewell to your excess stuff
No matter how much you force yourself into believing otherwise, you know that money can never buy everything. In fact, studies found that wealthy Americans are less happy than the average ones.
“When you have limitless funds, you tend to be hellbent on accumulating more. In the process, you lose the ability to appreciate what you do own and have difficulty feeling fulfilled,” says Janet Taylor, a clinical psychiatrist in New York.
It’s not about money. It’s about the things that truly matter.
Learn to let go of the things that just remind you of a painful past. Extra loads weigh people down and fill in the space that should be for something else. In return, it makes us feel disorganized and overwhelmed. So lightening up your closet is a way to help yourself regain control and your much-awaited happiness.
4. Work hard . . . but play hard too
Extremities can lead a person to exasperation. It is okay to take a jailbreak sometimes from your exhausting work.
“Overextending yourself induces stress, yet it also makes you feel productive, like you’re contributing something, which is very important to happiness.. . . Similarly, inactivity breeds boredom, which inspires feelings of uselessness and discontent, but lulls are vital,” said Niven.
To have a perfectly balanced routine, always make sure to plan ahead. Your goal at the end of the day should be to accomplish something while feeling relaxed. Yes, one of the toughest parts can be the dilemma of learning to let go of what you are used to do, but learning is a process, and you have to go through it.
Here’s a little suggestion. According to Victor Davich, author of 8 Minute Meditation, you just need but a quick minute to meditate. How? Sit upright with your hands on your thighs and palms up. Take a deep breath as you keep your eyes closed. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds, then slowly exhale. Do this for 8 minutes, and you will instantly feel better.
5. It’s sometimes necessary to give in to temptations
Admit it, keeping up with your seriously nerve-wracking daily routine sucks. So it pays to give yourself a favor. Treat yourself. After an exhausting schedule, go out and visit a fine dessert shop or a massage parlor.
Though it might hurt your conscience while you are still on your way, indulging and splurging in a little pleasure time after time is a thing you will never regret.
6. No one else can play better than you are, so love yourself
As an indecisive human, you sometimes feel bad about the thoughts you entertain in your head. You might have said even the saddest remarks to yourself in front of the mirror. Please, don’t wait for Justin Bieber to say this to you, just love yourself in any way. Be proud of who you are no matter what idiosyncratic act you did last night.
According to Ed Diener, PhD, leading happiness researcher and a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, “We tend to beat ourselves up, but it’s necessary to let ourselves off the hook.. . . Inevitably, you’re going to make mistakes, and yet you still have to like yourself.”
Don’t let your slight imperfections in your face deflate you. It is sometimes easier to point out all the flaws we have, but true happiness is being able to appreciate yourself despite all that.
It might take time, but you will soon realize that inner beauty is what matters more. Always remind yourself that there will always be something remarkable and something good about. Do not bring yourself down.
Take the time to face the mirror and compliment yourself.
7. Mental browsing is a waste of time
Sometimes we experience the dilemma of choosing one thing over the other. You chose the first one, yet you wasted the next few years of your life wondering what could have happened if you chose the other. Convincing yourself that you could have made better choices is a state called mental browsing. You waste your time and energy doubting your choice because you could have chosen the other one or that other one or the six other ones.
You are trapped in the thought that the others might have been better for you. You become the queen of regrets. But you should remember number 3—unload excess stuff!
The next time you have the same dilemma, build a criteria. For example, you are thinking of what program to take in college. You have five options. Remember what you really want to achieve in the end, like you want to be happy, you want something you will enjoy doing for the rest of your life, and what you believe would help you grow. if your option meets all these, forget the rest. Move on.