When you google the word 'happiness', 554 million results show up. By the time you’re reading this it’s probably even more. If you ever do go down the google rabbit hole of happiness, you’ll find a ton of advice on identifying your current happiness levels and tricks & tips on how to be even happier. We are obsessed with chasing happiness.
So what sort of advice do we get to be happier? It’s so simple. Just follow the happiness tips, tricks and hacks: Eat healthy, meditate, exercise, take care of your social life and smile. And while all of this wisdom by google is true, we mustn’t forget a very important part of a happy life – unhappiness.
But let's start at at the beginning. Happiness can be defined as “a state of well-being and contentment”. This does not mean a mind state of eternal sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. A happy life is a life where we feel content. Research suggests that happiness actually involves feeling emotions that feel right, no matter whether these emotions are positive of negative.
Living a happy life is not about feeling ‘positive’ emotions all the time. It’s about feeling the right emotions. There will be points in your life when feeling sadness or even anger will be appropriate. Rejecting these emotions and slapping on a happy face is not going to help you in the long-term. The key is feeling it through. Whatever it is - disappointment, rejection or loss. Feel the pain, accept it and choose to let go. Accepting even the ‘negative’ emotions will lead you one step closer to a life full of happiness and peace. Have faith that you’re feeling the way you’re feeling for a reason.
Ok, so we’ve determined that happiness is actually when you feel content. This can be partially cultural. For example, Americans on average desire high-arousal emotions such as excitement much more than people from Asian cultures. This would definitely explain all the theme parks. But here’s the fun part. You can decide what you’re happy or content with.
And here's how you can decide to live a happy life, unhappiness included. Two words are important here: acceptance and gratitude. Constantly being dissatisfied with what you have will only prevent you from enjoying your achievements. Because no matter what you achieve, it will not be good enough. There will always be more for you to conquer.
Accepting and being grateful for what you have now is the key. Have ambition, work towards your goals but never forget to appreciate what you have right now, in this very moment. Try working with this mindset even when it comes to your emotions. Whether you’re having a bad day or a good day, accept it and be grateful for what you have. And that is how even the unhappiest of moments can lead you to a happy life.