Happiness is a delicate subject. Everyone wants it yet there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding around it. I don’t have the answers to happiness. But I have some ideas behind it. Use what you can and discard the rest. I am no guru.
There is no one key to happiness. Everyone is different and thus there are going to be different methods of finding happiness for each person. Nonetheless, there are some universal truths to happiness. (feel free to critique these… these are not facts, merely opinions although I believe most of them can be backed up with science… anyhow)
Form Good Relationships: A simple one. Probably the most important. The people you surround yourself with obviously with be a source of happiness. Contrary to what some people say, happiness can come from external things. In fact, it should. It would not be satisfactory or plausible to have all your happiness come from within… that’s just weird. Anyhow, form healthy relationships. The work on how to do that is up to you.
Don’t Chase Happiness: Basically, if you aren’t happy, and you desperately want to be happy, you’ll end up making yourself more miserable because of that anxiety of not wanting to be unhappy. It adds on to the unhappiness itself. Life is a series of contrasts as well. Without black, there would be no white. Without pain, there would be no joy. Everything is relative, so the bad should be accepted. The saying that pain is inevitable, and suffering is optional holds true here.
Exercise: The obvious one. Everyone says it. Just do some everyday. It’ll be worth it.
The next part will depend on who you are. Everyone in this world is unique but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any overlaps. Namely, there are many ways to go about finding happiness and everyone should go about it their own way. But there are points where the path will converge for some people. Anyhow, there is no right way to happiness… just different and that will depend on who you are. Explaining below…
Preface: Basically, there are four cookie-cutter personality types with specific ways of feeling happy. If you want more information on this, refer to Please Understand Me 2 by David Keirsey. Basically, depending on your personality you’ll want to find happiness in a certain way. That does not mean you don’t derive happiness from other activities not natural to your personality, it just means you have a specific tendency towards a certain mode of happiness. To each their own.
Sensation-Seeking: Some people are happiest when they are constantly experiencing new things. They enjoy “living the fast life” doing things, seeing the world around them. This type of person will be happiest by simply filling their time in the present. There is nothing wrong with that. These types are hedonistic and live for the moment and they should play to that strength. Most of them will want to take up an artistic hobby (instruments, painting, etc.) to further the hedonistic, in the moment lifestyle.
Security-Seeking: Some people are happiest when they feel secure with their life. They’ll feel good by doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing. It is not a question of morals and values, but simply deciding what is right or wrong. These types don’t do too well with change and would be best off developing some set routines that make them happy. Routine is great for these types. These types oftentimes come across as reliable and respectable.
Identity-Seeking: This type is an odd-ball and consists of a smaller percentage of the population. They are concerned with finding their true selves. This is an interesting dilemma because if you are constantly searching for yourself, you can never find it. Another question that arises is what happens when you do find yourself? Anyhow, this type of person will be driven to try to understand themselves and will be happiest when they follow their own value system and morals. Being authentic is a must for their personal happiness.
Knowledge-Seeking: This type also constitutes a smaller percentage of the population. These types are the academics. They find happiness when they have abstract ideas to play around with in their head. These types will be most satisfied if they are able to continue learning in their everyday life and remain independent. Being and feeling independent will be necessary to further happiness for these types, as well as striving for achievement.
These four types of finding pleasure and happiness are all correct for different types of people. All of them are valid. So next time a friend is complaining that you should loosen up and party every once in a while, you can acknowledge that you simply don’t gain pleasure in sensation seeking. Likewise, if you don’t understand how some people could read so many books and so often, there is no problem. They are simply knowledge-seeking people. Obviously if you don’t enjoy books that much, you’re simply not a knowledge-seeker. Nothing wrong with that. Hell… we’re all alright.