In persuit of happiness
Happiness - for many, it remains an elusive thing. It's something that seems to be always just around the corner. We tell ourselves that we'll be happy once we land this new job. Or when we finally go on holiday. Or when we get a pay rise, or settle in our new home, etc.
Or maybe we'll be happier with this new pair of shoes? Some people certainly seem to think so. They fill their lives with stuff... new clothes, designer labels and of course accessories to go with it all. Bigger cars, nicer houses, better furniture, the latest iPhones, huge TV's. The kids get decked out in prestigious clothes pretty much from the moment they are born and have tons of toys to stimulate their brains. Consumerism is abundant - advertisements are plentiful and the lure to buy is everywhere. Ads tell us every day that our life will certainly be much better if we had this handcrafted diamond ring or designer rug. And of course, we have to have the trendiest sunglasses and we wouldn't be in vogue without a Louis Vuitton handbag.
But in order to get all this "stuff" we need to work harder and longer. It's not uncommon to spend 60-80 hours at work these days. Many of us can probably count the quality hours they spend with their loved ones on one hand.
Maybe, those of us who are trapped in that rat race have it all wrong. Maybe we need to rethink our priorities. How important is it really to have a huge house filled with stuff and drive the latest model car? Is it worth all that time spent at work to earn the money to afford it all? Obviously, we are all different. What makes me happy, might not make you happy. But I still have not met a single person, who finds true happiness in material things only. Sure, some things are nice to have, but at what cost?
Are we missing the point here? Can happiness really be bought?
When we get to the end of our life - what will we be thinking of? That latest gadgets we bought? Our closet full of clothes? The hours we spent on the computer? All the time we were at work?
Or will we be thinking of the people we love and the moments that made it all worthwhile?
Here is an example of a glass jar. The big stones represent all the really important things in life like family, friends and health. The smaller stones represent other important things like work, money, holidays etc. The sand represents the less important things like watching TV, surfing the net, online games, cleaning, shopping, wasting time.
When you fill your days with lots of sand, there is less space for the bigger, more important things. It's easy to get caught up with trivial things - like sitting in front of the TV or computer or spending hours out shopping, or vacuuming the floor while your child wants to play with you. By doing so, we are missing out on the things that really matter.
Getting the balance right is essential. Without work, we'll obviously be struggling to make a living. If you never clean your house, it won't be a nice place to hang out. There is nothing wrong with watching TV or playing on your computer occasionally.
However, the key is to put the important things first. Talk to your kids, your spouse, your family and friends. Enjoy a meal together. Have fun together. Go on outdoor adventures together. Do things you love. Make memories.
10 important points in finding true happiness:
Don't take yourself too seriously. Have a sense of humour. Laugh at yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Don't put yourself down. Often we are harder on ourselves, than we are on other people. Realize that you are doing the best you can. You don't have to be perfect.
Be kind to everyone else. It's easy to judge other people. But unless you walk in their shoes, you don't know what's going on in their lives. Have compassion.
Think positive. Only you can choose what to think - regardless of what happens to you - you are in control of your thoughts.
Be grateful. Count your blessings. There is so much to be grateful for - remind yourself of all the good things in your life every day.
Accept what you cannot change. There are some things you cannot do anything about. You can't change your past or your family or certain things that happen. By being upset, you only hurt yourself. Acceptance and forgiveness will make your life a lot happier.
Change those things, that you can. If you are not happy with certain aspects of your life that are under your control, do something about it. If you don't like your weight or your friends or where you live - change it! There are lots of things you can change if you are not happy with them. It's totally up to you - you are the only one that can make it happen.
Make time for the people you love. Put your loved ones first. Enjoy the time you have with the people that mean the most to you. You never know how much time you've got left.
Look after yourself. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and take care of your body.
Honor your values. Know what you value most in life. When the things you do and the way you behave match your values, your life will be happier.