“A good life is a collection of happy moments.” ~ Denis Waitley
Happiness, we all want it.
We all want to feel it. We seek it out, searching for it. Looking to others in the hope they will give it to us. We believe if we are not happy, we are doing something wrong, or someone is doing us wrong.
We blindly follow what we’ve been conditioned to believe will make us happy. We stay in jobs we hate because we are deemed successful. We chase higher incomes because we are taught that more money will make us happier. We partner up because apparently single people are unhappy. We stay in bad relationships because of familial pressures. Financial reasons. Societal judgements.
We buy stuff. Amass material things because we think more “stuff” means happiness. We people please so we are liked and see our worth through the number of “friends” we have. The number of followers we have. The number of likes we get.
We put our mask on and smile because heaven forbid we actually be authentic and real.
We have all heard “happiness comes from within” yet most of us still search externally for it. It’s not surprising really; we have generations of conditioning to change and many are unaware or unwilling to do the work to change this.
The narrative of what creates happiness remains the same for so many people and it centres around money, material items, relationship longevity, and career success. Yet when we take a closer look, all these things are meaningless if we hate our job or the person we are with is no longer the person we want be with. No amount of money or material items matter if we are working a job that makes us miserable or doesn’t sit with our values. I get it, we need to work, but if we’re working in a job we hate for more money than we need—is it worth it? The longevity of a relationship is not the measure of a good relationship.
An interesting belief is judging a person’s success in life by how much they earn, what their job title is, how big their house is, and how long they’ve been with their partner. I’ve come to realise our success in life is how connected we are to ourselves and others. How much we love and how loved we are. How authentically and truthfully we live our life. How kind and compassionate we are. We should never measure by time but rather by the depth of a connection.
Happiness is a feeling and like all feelings it comes and goes. We are not going to be happy all the time because we will all be faced with challenges and loss. But we can live in a way that is more conducive for true soul happiness.
Here’s my manifesto:
1. Try listening to your heart and soul instead of always listening to your head.
Of course we need logic, but oftentimes our head overrules what it is that our heart and soul truly desires. True happiness comes when we follow the truth of what we really want, not the logic of what we should want, or how we should be.
2. Understand that fear will manifest as ego.
Our ego will always step it up a notch when we fear change. Our ego will search for justifications to stop us from doing things. Convincing us that we need to stay in our comfort zone. Stopping us from growth and moving toward the inner work that will help us see our true happiness. Our ego will stop us from stepping into our fears and will therefore stop us from hearing our truth. It is a protective mechanism but will keep us stuck.
3. Spend some time alone in silence.
It’s surprising what you will discover. We live frenetic lives. Always busy. Always actioning to do lists. Many wanting to be forever surrounded by people. So many find it hard to be in solitude. To sit in silence. Because when they do, things come up they don’t want to address. Things come up they don’t want to feel. People validate themselves the more hectic their lives are. This rarely does anything but burn us out. Temporary happiness through busyness, varying focuses, and surrounding ourselves with others is not real. It is simply distraction.
4. Give back.
I don’t mean in monetary terms. I mean volunteer your time to help someone in need or the community. We are time poor, I know, but the value of giving this way is indescribable. Look into local charities that need help. Or help an elderly or unwell neighbour. We unfortunately have become selfish, and taking the time to give back will reward you in more ways than you realise. Remember to smile at the next stranger you walk past.
5. Replace judgement for love.
We all judge at times, but why do we do it? Fear, jealousy, resentment. Something triggers us and instead of feeling what’s at the core, we judge. The world is full of judgemental people. I pride myself on trying to refrain from judgement, but sometimes it does creep in. I sit with it to understand what the root cause is, and then I replace that with love. There’s a beautiful tapping exercise that Gabrielle Bernstein does for judgement and replacing judgement with love.
6. Don’t buy into the toxic positivity culture.
We are meant to feel “negative” emotions; they are a normal part of life, and they are healthy. How we unpack these emotions and deal with them is what’s important. This toxic positivity culture is unhealthy and makes people feel unworthy and/or wrong for feeling anything but positive emotions. Feel all of your beautiful emotions, both “positive” and “negative,” but learn to address and deal with them in healthy ways.
7. Social Media is not an accurate depiction of real life.
Very few people will show anything but the good stuff on social media. I remember good friends of mine posting a happy, smiling photo of themselves that looked to the world that everything was wonderful. The truth is they were planning on separating and were just getting through the holiday season. I’m not sure what drives us to this, except the belief we have that we should depict this “perfect” life. Don’t look to social media for a realistic view of happiness. It’s oftentimes staged. I’ve gravitated toward more realistic pages and people who show a more authentic version of themselves.
8. True friends are people you can speak your truth to no matter what.
Some people really believe their worth is measured by the number of friends they have rather than by the quality of friends they have. There’s a joy and happiness that comes from being able to be your completely raw self with your friends. If you can’t speak your truth and be your messy self to your friends, or partner for that matter, there’s a reason. True happiness lies in being who you really are at your core. Hiding parts of yourself, people pleasing, or pretending will ultimately cause you pain and unhappiness. Connect to people who accept the authentic you.
9. Say no.
Many of us have problems saying no, but we need to learn to say no. Boundaries are so important and when we repeatedly allow people to step over our boundaries, we are internally saying our feelings are not important. I see a lot of relationships where one partner/friend/family member continually violates another’s boundaries, and it causes great internal conflict. Everyone is entitled to a level of privacy, independence, and individuality. Anything less than this is an unhealthy, even toxic relationship. We cannot gain internal happiness when we are in an unhealthy environment.
10. Enjoy the simple things.
There’s something so beautiful and joyful in enjoying the simple things in life. A walk in nature. A sunrise or sunset. A swim in the ocean. A chat with a loved one. A laugh with a friend. Holding a child’s hand. Spending time with an elderly person. Reading something that resonates. Cuddling a pet. Hearing a song. We have become so caught up in the “big things,”the big events. Big parties. Fancy restaurants. Big holidays. Buying big things. Having bigger things than someone else. We’ve forgotten about the simple pleasures of life. The joy of immersing ourselves into life and the world around us, without spending loads of money. The best things in life truly are free.
11. Unburden yourself.
Many people carry around secrets, guilt, and shame—which means they are forever being deceitful and lying. These things will forever keep you vibrating at a low frequency. They will slowly mess with your emotional and physical health because you can only compartmentalise for so long. Unburden yourself and speak your truth, especially if that truth involves others. We all deserve the truth and to make decisions based on the truth. There can never be true long-term happiness when secrets, lies, guilt, and shame are involved. The truth is often hard to say and painful to hear, but it is the start of healing and growth, which is part of the recipe for happiness.
12. Love. Embody love. Radiate love. Be love.
It can be challenging, but if we look at everything through a lense of love, we will feel an ease, inner happiness, and peace. When you are in this space, it’s hard to feel judgement and fear. When we remind ourselves that another’s behaviour is their pain and unhealed trauma, it’s easier to not take it personally. People can only ever meet you where they are at.
13. Feel gratitude.
Yes it’s been said a million times, but gratitude is a gift. It’s the gift that reminds us of our blessings. And even in hard times, there’s always something, even if small, to be grateful for. When you feel gratitude, it’s difficult to feel bitter or angry. A grateful state leads to a happier state.
14. Be curious.
About yourself. About what triggers you. About what your truth is. About learning new things. About how to grow. About how you connect with others. About perception. About the world. About life. About how you can do better and be better. Being curious opens your mind to new things, to different ideas, to better ways. Being curious will lead you to destinations you never even thought of.
Life can be challenging. It can be painful. And it won’t always be sunshine and sunflowers, but the reality is it’s not meant to be. However, with the commitment to work on ourselves and really listen to what it is we desire, we can have a more fulfilled and happy life. We can achieve an authentic life, which will ultimately bring us our greatest joy.
We’ve been so conditioned to listen to everyone else and the societal views of happiness that we’ve completely forgotten how to listen to ourselves. Not everyone’s happiness is the same. Not everyone’s happiness is conducive to the conditioned beliefs we hold. Not everyone wants the same things, yet those who don’t are judged and criticised by people who are too scared to truly follow their own desires. Happiness is subjective and personal.
Start listening to your truth and let it lead you to your bliss.
Life is not meant to be a competition. It’s meant to be lived from your soul. When we finally start listening and following what our soul is saying, we will finally understand the true depth of happiness.
“True happiness never entered through the eye. True happiness resides in things unseen.” ~ Edward Young