Be happy for no reason
Why attributing happiness to certain objectives can be problematic
In this world of instant gratification, I find that we are always looking for the next thing that will keep us happy, even if only for the short-term. Whether it is a new show on Netflix, a new car or a new job, we’re always looking for the next thing to quench our insatiable pursuit of happiness. Many years ago, a friend once said to me “I try to be happy for no reason at all”. I didn’t really pay much attention to it at the time and I doubt this friend would even remember that conversation but now this philosophy or way of living has become one of the most important lessons I have learnt in my twenties. Recently, I have had a lot of people ask me how I manage to stay so positive and optimistic all the time. The truth of it is of course that this is not the case and I am not always happy. Who is? In our lives we are faced with different types of challenges, experiences and questions every day, which inevitably lead us to go through a wide spectrum of emotions, each of which are fundamental to our shared human experience. Moreover, it is not realistic or even necessarily healthy for us to be happy all the time. Whilst there are a multitude of factors that are outside of our sphere of influence that impact our lives every day, our mindset is an aspect that we can have more control over. Being content without needing a reason for being so is a goal that I consistently strive for, primarily because doing the opposite has the potential to be hugely restrictive.
What if you fail?
To have focus, commitment and resilience in the pursuit of your goals should be greatly encouraged, however, pinning your happiness on the fulfilment of said objectives, as I’ve been guilty of in the past, can be problematic. The reason I say this is because, what happens if you fail? What happens if for some reason life doesn’t unfold the way that you had planned? Does that mean you can never be happy? For the large part, this proved to be true for me in the past. There were definitely times where I would put my happiness on hold. I could not be content until I achieved what I thought to be the key to my happiness at that moment in time. This meant that I could not enjoy the little successes that I had along the way. I could neither appreciate the lessons I had learnt throughout the process, nor truly take in the beauty of each of the experiences I had.
What happens if you fail? What happens if for some reason life doesn’t unfold the way that you had planned? Does that mean you can never be happy?
“The world isn’t going anywhere”
In life, it is so easy to get distracted by our own big, long-term ambitions and goals that we tend to lose sight of the little things. I am starting to learn that the secret to life is in fact in these small moments and how the present moment is actually the only thing we can have an impact on. Of course, we all have our dreams and objectives and I will continue to pursue mine wholeheartedly and relentlessly but I am also realising that it is ok to go at your own pace. Things happen for different people at different times. The importance of celebrating every step on the road to achieving those milestone moments in our lives however, cannot and should not be understated. Be happy for no reason.
“There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere.” — Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig