This stuff is hard.
I won’t sit here and act like it’s not.
So I recruited the help of my good friend Beyoncé to help make this a little bit easier.
Disclaimer: This method has been proven thus far to work on only one test subject – me. I can neither verify nor guarantee its effectiveness on other people.
Step One: STOP
Stop reading about it.
Stop researching it.
Seriously, if you type “How to be happy” into Google one more time…I will appear through the keyboard keys and slap your misbehaving little fingers.
I know, I know, it’s tempting.
It’s tempting to believe you can think your way out of a bad situation.
I’ve been there.
It’s tempting to think that if you just had enough information, you could solve the puzzle of whatever plagues you.
But that’s not the way our minds work.
Actually, the quest for information may just be another way to evade the real problem.
I’m of the unpopular, and perhaps fatalistic, opinion that articles and pieces saying things like “How to be happy” need to disappear forever. Look, the thing is, if you need to search for something like this online, reading one article (or 100) won’t make things any better for you.
Yes, that includes this one.
My only hope is that I can write about this in a way that comes close to fully encapsulating:
- the complexity of the human psyche (Beyoncé gifs and all), and
- the difficulty of the task at hand.
So go on … keep reading … we both already know you’re going to. 😉
Step Two: UNDERSTAND
Understand that you are the one making yourself miserable.
There was no better way to say that.
Does it make you frustrated? Bitter? Angry?
Well, it should.
Because it sucks.
And, in a way, you have no control over it.
Knowledge is the first step, and if you can come to terms with this highly inconvenient truth, then you are one step closer – even if only on an intellectual level – to rectifying the situation.
All your pet peeves and annoyances are manufactured by your brain to keep you miserable.
All the things you “hate” … all the things you “just can’t stand” … all the things that make you “go crazy” – they are only that way because you need a reason to be unhappy.
I know, I know, this info is really hard to swallow. Actually, you may want to stop reading right now (although if you didn’t stop reading at Step One I’m gonna assume you’ll still be here at the end) and either decide I’m a hopeless fool, or decide to wallow in self-pity.
But the bitter pill comes with a sweet aftertaste.
Think about it: if the things making you miserable are completely out of your control, if your happiness isn’t your decision, then you have no real power to change anything.
You have no real chance at ever being happy.
You’re just going round and round in a hamster wheel of happenstance, hoping that your circumstances change, whether through your effort or some miraculous showing of good luck.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt and had proven to me over and over again, it’s that miserable people are (generally) miserable, no matter what’s going on in their lives. And happy people and (generally) happy too.
It’s not the situation. It’s you.
When you understand this, you’ll have all the power in the world.
Step Three: Accept
The third point is going to be probably the most paradoxical of all the ridiculously difficult steps.
So, if you’re still here, strap in: it’s going to be a crazy ride.
For me, acceptance means accepting … and being okay with … the fact that I’m not happy.
Accept that if you’re not happy, there’s probably good reason for it.
Life isn’t a bed of roses, and at many times, it’s extremely difficult and debilitatingly sad.
Happiness – and sadness – are just feelings. Emotions. Reactions.
Of course, being sad isn’t pleasant, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad.
Expecting yourself to be happy ‘for no reason’ seems just as pointless to me, as expecting yourself to be sad when everything is going great.
Not everyone is happy. Not everyone has had a happy life. Not everyone is living through happy circumstances.
I’ve come to realize that some people are…just…miserable.
And that, too, is okay.
Miserable people aren’t any less wonderful. Miserable people aren’t any less fun to be around. Miserable people aren’t any less deserving of love, and care, and respect.
It’s just…one thing…at one point in time.
It doesn’t define who you are.
I’m not saying that accepting that you aren’t happy will make you happy, but I do believe that if there’s one thing that GUARANTEED to keep you unhappy, it’s trying to be happy.
If it’s any at all possible…just try to let it go.
Do you have any thoughts on the pursuit of happyness?
Please leave a comment below letting me know what you think.