Happiness is one of the things we all chase after, maybe if we get a little richer we’ll be happier or maybe if that girl says yes we may be happier or perhaps if we change jobs we might be happier. Whatever the case is, one thing is clear, in our minds, if we achieve something, reach a point or mark something off our checklist we will be happier.
While this may be the case, we often find ourselves in “unhappy” situations, maybe we’re broke or worse, poor, maybe that girl said no or just “wants to be friends” or perhaps we can’t quit our job because there’s no job somewhere else and we have bills to pay and family to feed.
Happiness is a Choice?
They say happiness is a choice but it’s not a choice we all know how to make at all times and in all situations or circumstances, sometimes we want to complain because life is hard and we want to feel the pain of it. If I understand it, it is because we may not have control over events, circumstances or situations but we have control over our reactions to such events so you can argue that happiness is about perspective and our outlook. Why would a rich person “suddenly” commit suicide while a poor person can dance and be so full of life? He has nothing so why should he be happy when the rich man is so sad? Those are questions I cannot really answer myself but I can give you some tips on how to live a happier life.
How to Live a Happier Life
1. Avoid Debt
Debt is one of the biggest thieves of happiness for the average person. Debt is like walking into a river with weights tied to your ankles and the more debt you accumulate, the deeper you go into the river and more weight is added. Just getting a debit alert is annoying especially when there’s no money coming in, being broke is even worse enough but being in debt is the worst! It makes you feel less than, you feel imprisoned or uncomfortable, you feel insecure or like the person has control over you, you also become evasive especially when you can’t pay back when you should. For example, you may start avoiding your creditor’s call.
Debt can ruin one’s life especially if the interest rates are high like in the case of borrowing from Nigerian banks, if you borrow to get a mortgage or to buy a car or start a business then if you can’t keep up, your collateral will not be given back to you and some additional privileges might be taken away from you. It isn’t always possible but as much as you can run away from debt like it’s the plague and you will live a happier life, try to live on a budget especially from a young age (see 06 Costly Budgeting Mistakes You’re Probably Making).
Benjamin Franklin said, “Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” I’m not saying you should go hungry or anything but if you’re going to be in debt make sure it’s for something meaningful not just because you have some spending cravings you want to satisfy. All that being said. Being in debt can also motivate you to work harder and smarter so you don’t have to be in debt again.
2. Understand and Invest in Yourself
You’re your biggest asset. Since that is the case, you should put in all your resources to build yourself and add value to others and in turn you will get rewarded with income, respect, recognition, etc. As Norman Vincent Peale said, self-knowledge is the beginning of self-correction or someone more recent, Drake said “know yourself, know your worth.”
There is a strong emphasis on knowing yourself, what you can and can’t do, your preferences, your history, etc. these things inform your person and are thus essential on a conscious and unconscious level, when you know who you are you will be happier because you won’t bother yourself on things you shouldn’t.
This means spending some quality alone time, having conversations will yourself, trying new things, leaving your comfort zone (see 3 Reasons to Leave Your Comfort Zone Today!), etc. Most importantly, you need to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on yourself, capitalising on your strengths brings opportunities, working on your weaknesses reduces to your susceptibility to temptation, taking action on your opportunities allows you to do progress in life and overcoming your threats gives you thicker skin and more confidence so you should be vigilant and watchful of your threats and plan how to deal with them.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to spend money to invest in yourself at least not with any and everything. The most necessary ingredient is that you invest your time and effort into self-improvement or personal development, because humans are creatures of progress, working towards something gives us a sense of purpose which in turn gives us happiness.
Remember that before you can effectively help others, you have to work on yourself, so keep this bible verse in mind “…first get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”- Matthew 7:5
3. Find a Passion
Passion doesn’t always come knocking on your door. Passion is a continual action we can carry out without getting bored or tired. So that means, passion is action based and not necessarily nature or talent based. Even if someone has more natural talent than you but you’re more passionate and hard-working you can surpass them, you know the saying “hard work beats talent when talent don’t work hard enough.”
You may not be passionate at the moment but find something that interests you and keep at it and it might just morph into a passion! A lot of people chase money, but to be happier, you should chase the intangibles like adding value in people’s lives by creating solutions.
Merely chasing money is a vicious cycle and as Benjamin Franklin said, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way.”
From my understanding, merely chasing money without a more glorious goal behind it is a vain effort, it’s not always that motivating based on my experience, if you don’t find something worthy to attach the chase of money to then it’s unsustainable.
My hope is that as you find and chase your passion for greater fulfilment that you don’t get complacent or lazy because as Burna Boy said “Dangote still dey find money.” (The richest man in Africa still works hard every day and that converts to riches).
4. Find Hobbies
Hobbies are like part-time interests or passions. They should evict you from real life scenarios so they can be a means of escapism however, you shouldn’t depend solely on hobbies. They should be regulated and shouldn’t last too long or they may render you unproductive if you overindulge. Hobbies or recreational activities helps you take out stress and thus create more room for happiness in your life.
There is the popular advice about hobbies going around on Instagram and I totally agree with it “find three hobbies: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to keep you creative.” So a good example is that you can learn how to do graphic design or photography which will earn you money on the side, then you can go for a run or join a dance class to keep you in shape and you can paint, write or sing to keep you creative.
5. Don’t Waste Your Time
Persistence is one of the tenets of success but we should become adept at discerning what we should keep at or what we should move on from. Many of us have gotten it mixed up and persist where it does us no good, we should stop trying to raise dead things back to life.
Sometimes, we’ve invested so much time and energy into these things that even though we know it’s a sinking ship we spend even more time trying to salvage what we can at the expense of our own “safety” or happiness. For example, instead of moving on from an unrequited love, we end up trying so much thinking we might end up with the person if we just tried one more time and we get disappointed when they get with someone else.
There are other ways we waste our time and that is through procrastination (see 8 Practical Solutions to Procrastination), we move things to later which should be done now and it can lead to all sort of problems.
For example, as a student you’re given coursework to do which should be submitted after a month, you procrastinate until the night before and you start panicking “oh my God, the deadline is tomorrow and I haven’t started” you rush into it and end up doing a sloppy job and you fail. Who do you blame? As much as you can try not to procrastinate on what’s important and watch how happier you will become.
6. Invest in Relationships and Experiences
It’s no doubt that experiences and relationships make us happy. Establish relationships will like-minded people that motivate you to do better. Your company should reflect a part of you, like the famous saying goes “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.”
Hanging around the wrong people is destructive, it’s like spraying herbicide on a grass and expecting it to grow. You know the saying “bad company corrupts good morals” so you should regularly take stock of those around you, are they propelling you forward or hindering your progress? If it is the former then stick with them but if it’s the latter, cut them off (see How to Make & Keep Friends).
It is also important than when interacting with others you should establish boundaries, there are things you shouldn’t tolerate, for example someone using a term of endearment when you just met especially in professional settings.
Another vital aspect of relationships is networking, connecting with the right individuals allows you to explore opportunities and experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t which may lead to achieving greater achievements (see Networking Basics: The What, Why and How).
In the romantic sense, try to get in with someone who values you and who you value greatly, it’s 2019, stop putting yourself in toxic relationships as much as possible. Finally, spend quality time with loved ones and do quality activities with them and you will be happy.
QOTD: "Happiness consists more in small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.” – Benjamin Franklin
WELL, THAT’S IT FROM ME GUYS! NOW…
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!