Everyone wants to be happy but what is happiness exactly? It is a feeling of contentment, of fulfilment – feeling like you are valued and that your life has meaning.
But are we looking for happiness in the right place?
Unfortunately today too many people are stressed out, leading very busy lives but they feel a void in their lives. They keep trying to fill the void with material possessions, money and overconsumption of food, alcohol and other bad habits. No matter what they buy, how much money they make or how they try and plug the void, it is never enough.
We live in an age of consumerism where we are constantly told to buy this or that product as it will make our lives better or easier. Social norms and the constant barrage of advice from experts telling us how to live our lives places an unconscious pressure on us to conform, to be accepted. To be seen as living happy, successful lives.
The truth is no matter what you own, what you do for a living or how well you mirror the socially accepted ways of living, you will never be truly happy unless you look within yourself and find your own inner happiness.
Obstacles to happiness
If you seek to find happiness from your relationships, work or other outside sources, like material goods, you will never stop searching for it. No one and no item can fill that void you feel inside. Sure living comfortably, having nice things and having great relationships makes life easier but these things on their own can never make you feel whole inside.
Happiness isn’t tangible and the biggest obstacle to your happiness is you.
Self-doubt, feeling that you aren’t good enough, judging your life against the lives of others creates internal unhappiness. These beliefs and thoughts create that void within you. If you don’t address them and learn to love yourself and your life as it is right now, you will never find fulfilment.
Your belief system
At the core of who you are lies your belief system. Your belief system informs your sense of self-worth, it guides your thoughts and behaviours and it can be a very harsh critic of everything you do, think or say. Unfortunately we are programmed to listen more closely to negative messages than positive ones, irrespective of how right or wrong they are and it is those messages that cause your unhappiness.
If you learn to accept yourself for who you are, learn to understand that you are a valuable human being who deserves to feel happiness and fulfilment, you will start to see your life in a more positive light. When you stop listening to your inner critic and start to love your perfectly imperfect self, you will start to experience happiness.
Learning to love yourself
Eradicating negative, critical beliefs that stand in the way of your happiness takes time as these beliefs are deeply embedded in your subconscious mind. Just like any learnt skills, it takes time and repetition to remove a negative belief and replace it with a powerful, positive one. However you do not need a Phd, or years of therapy to overcome these beliefs, you just need to want to do it.
Happiness is a choice. It is a state of mind and if you choose to be happy then you can be happy. Start by understanding what your negative beliefs are, then challenge and replace them with positive beliefs. Think about it, you are not an anomaly. You are not uniquely destined to live an unhappy life so what is really stopping you from loving yourself and being happy?
There is no such thing as a perfect person, and it is would be an incredibly boring world if we were all the same. So embrace your uniqueness, love yourself for who you are and start to believe in yourself. There are no rules in life that state you have to be a certain way in order to deserve happiness, so stop telling yourself there are.
Learn to be grateful
One of the easiest and most effective ways of changing your state of mind from “unhappy” to “happy” is to be grateful for all the good things in your life. By being consciously aware of all the positives you elevate your mood and start seeing more and more things to be grateful for.
Even if you perceive your life to be a mess, or you are having problems financially, in your home or work life, I can guarantee you have things to be grateful for. For a start you have a roof over head, you have food in your belly and you probably are relatively healthy too. These are the things we usually take for granted but in truth we should be grateful for them as there are millions of people across the globe that don’t have these things.
If you want to lead a happier life, stop looking outside of yourself and just decide to be happy. Just accept and love yourself for who you are. Practice gratitude often and stop listening to your inner critic. As I said happiness is a state, it is a feeling and it is your choice whether to feel happy or not. So what do you choose?