What makes you truly happy? Friends? An exotic vacation? A good book? Laughter of a newborn child?
Great. Because those things make me happy too. But what if those sources of joy were stripped off of you and you were left with just… you? Are you your source of happiness?
This is the question that I had asked myself over and over again, resulting in fake answers each time. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this started, but I had been building a facade of happiness to mask dissatisfaction and flaws in my life. I continued on with such lifestyle because it worked for me for a period of time. But over time, that facade started to crumble with the ever-growing weight of overlooked unhappiness and depression beneath the surface. I was so scared that my imperfections and vulnerabilities would shine like a high beam through the cracks. Helplessness engulfed me because I felt like I was losing control of my mind and life. My sources of joy were falling through beneath my feet. I was terrified.
Fast forward to today, while I’m still on my way up from that low point, I’m high enough to be able to get a clearer view of the full picture. With time and will, I have refocused my happiness from the ruins of the happiness facade to the inner me who had been calling for my attention for a long time.
And boy, was it a tough journey! It was one that revealed and testified so much truth about what it means to be truly happy, and today I want to share 5 things I’ve learned.
- We hear this one all the time: “stop caring about what others think.” It sure is easier said than done, right? However, being constantly conscious about how you’ll be perceived by others is an emotional trap and will stunt you from growing and tear you away from the person you need to love the most – yourself. How can you love yourself when you’re constantly trying to live up to the standards (sometimes perceived standards) of other people?
- We always value honesty with other people. But do you put as much emphasis on being honest with yourself? I sure didn’t at first. One way to nurture honesty with yourself is by asking yourself the hard questions. Try your best to give the most honest answer possible, and not try to satisfy the expectations you hold yourself against. For instance, if you consider yourself a chill, down-to-earth person, don’t beat yourself up for feeling negative and uptight at times. You are human, remember that!
- Continuing on with #2, remember to be kind to yourself despite your flaws. Your imperfections are what makes you beautiful and unique so accept them!
- Continuing on with #2 again, be true to your emotions. If you’re feeling upset, let yourself indulge in that emotion for a while. It’s much healthier to let the true emotions run its course before you can figure the rest out. Sure, you can pretend temporarily to be happy if necessary, but there’s a big difference between pretending and completely denying the feelings.
- Last but not least, remember that negative feelings are part of everyone’s lives. Everybody goes through periods of highs and lows. Negatives must co-exist with the positives, or we won’t know where to derive happiness from, right?
There’s a loosely common theme in all of this – the connection with your inner self. Once you stop neglecting your emotions and become in sync with it, everything becomes so much easier and happiness will slowly flow from within. More importantly, doing so will make it that much easier to combat any negativity. In one of my favorite Ted Talks from 2014, Guy Winch talks about the importance of practicing emotional hygiene just as much as we practice physical hygiene. And it makes complete sense! Watch the full video below.
What does being truly happy mean to you?