Quite a few people out there claim to know what will make us happy. I am always a bit suspect of accepting general answers to mostly subjective questions. One person’s happiness can be another person’s burden, obligation, or chore. My contention is that most people don’t spend enough time truly trying to get in touch with themselves as individuals and what honestly makes them happy. In fact, we often feel a bit sheepish or odd when we don’t follow a conventional formula for happiness. There is this overriding sense that it is better to fit in than be different – which is nonsense and a direct pathway to personal malaise and/or unhappiness.
The media tries to sell us a package of success and happiness that typically involves good looks, money, sex, fame, power, prestige and acquiring things. You can’t blame them. Media executives are mostly in the business of selling us things we do not need, so if they work hard to create perceived deficits in our lives so we will try to fill the gaps. If only you were thinner, had whiter teeth, better hair, a more expensive car, bigger house, nicer things, cool gadgets, perfect kids, a more understanding spouse, and took luxurious vacations, you would be happier.
We all know this is not true. There are no shortcuts. Look at Hollywood – there is never a shortage of unhappiness fodder for the tabloids (and with network media that is unfortunately becoming the same thing).
I don’t claim to have any answers except that you need to keep asking the right questions, having new experiences, stepping outside your comfort zone, and embracing your own individuality. You need to fully explore being you!
Each one of us is a miracle of nature full of many gifts and talents. Pay attention to what makes you feel good about yourself, to what fits your natural abilities, to what prompts you to be more charitable towards others, and to what leads you towards healthier lifestyle behaviors. It is always preferable to spend time with people who help bring these things out of you. I’ve read about and experienced myself that when you are truly in a space of pure joy and contentment, time seems to stand still, and life feels almost effortless. I am certain we would all like to experience more moments like this.
As Shakespeare so aptly put it, “To thine own self be true…”