Happiness is ultimately what we all want to achieve, isn’t it? I feel like as millennials, we are constantly told how to be happy and what to do to achieve happiness. We are bombarded with an overwhelming list of ideas and theories about happiness and suggestions on what we should be doing to be happy. Some of the popular ones that I’ve seen include: “Get enough sleep”, “workout x times a week” (the amount varies depending on the source), “have a balanced diet”, “get rid of negativity”, “get a job you like”, “pursue your passions”, “have a stable salary”, “be in a happy relationship”/“be single” (whatever relationship status is on trend at the time) and “get on the property ladder”. Who knew that achieving happiness could be so easy?! I’m being sarcastic of course.
Happiness is made out to have some magic algebraic equation behind it. It suggests that if you tick off these “milestones” or societal expectations then you will be happy.
E.g. a + b = c
Sleep + diet + a job you like (+ a million other things) = happiness
I don’t know about you but I’m not quite sure that it works like that.
Of course these elements may have the potential to make a person happier or happy momentarily, but I’m talking about the kind of happiness or feeling of contentment when the only company you have is your own, you’re laying in bed, everything is quiet and everything artificial is stripped away. I’m talking about the kind of happiness when you wake up in the morning and feel like you want to get out of bed, make the most of each day and live your best life. I don’t think that this kind of real and raw happiness can be achieved by ticking off societal expectations or working towards anybody else’s ideas of happiness. I don’t think that a one size fits all option exists when it comes to happiness.
A few years ago, I remember questioning my younger sister (sorry hun!) about why she didn’t choose to go to university, when for me there was no other option, it was a definite choice and one that personally made me really happy. At the time, I just couldn’t understand her decision, but now, I see very clearly that it wouldn’t be a choice that would make her happy. Similarly, when I graduated from university, I bagged myself a place on a competitive graduate scheme and went through five rounds of hardcore recruitment to secure it, but I just wasn’t happy with it. In fact, I ended up quitting it after a couple of months. But other people loved it and are still doing it years later.
I have come to realise that happiness is actually a very personal thing. Happiness is individual to each and every person. There is no one size fits all when it comes to happiness. We make our own magic equation to achieve our individual ideas of happiness and different people are made happy by different things. As a society, I think that we need to realise that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Whilst society (and some people in it) still tend judge people by titles and figures relating to jobs, salaries, relationship status, gender, age, class and accent, among others, I challenge you to judge yourself by your own happiness levels.
What makes you happy? Your passion? Your family? Your career? Your lifestyle? Something else? A mixture of things?
Happiness can be found in your goals and achievements; passing an exam that you’ve been studying for, bagging yourself a promotion or watching your family grow up in a safe and happy environment. Happiness can be momentary. It can found in the smaller things. Those moments that have the ability to uplift your mood and change your whole day. A good cup of tea, a cuddle with a loved one, or feeling the sunshine on your face. There may be times when you might lose sight of what makes you happy. Life might push you into questioning it. Your answer could even change as your priorities in life alter. And some days, you might decide that you are just not happy.
I feel like there is so much pressure around happiness and more specifically, for people to know what makes them happy, when sometimes you just don’t know or you need time to figure it out. Some days, I know exactly what makes me happy. Other days I wake up and I feel like I’m not too sure of my answer.
Happiness or knowing what makes you happy shouldn’t be viewed as an achievement and it needs to be realised that there is no concrete tick list or equation that will allow you to achieve real happiness. Happiness is the ongoing story of your life and it can only be written by you. It is down to you to create your own equation and answer.
P.S Can everyone stop telling us how to be happy?
So, have you figured out what makes you happy?
How do you achieve happiness?