Sometimes in life, it can be the simplest things that can make the biggest difference. If someone put you on the spot right now and asked you what you thought would make you happy, the chances are that your snap answer would be something like winning the lottery, a luxurious holiday, or finding love. We are all guilty of looking for external sources of happiness, and there is nothing wrong with craving a bit of pampering or feeling in need of a break, but the truth behind real happiness is that it actually comes from within you.
It can sound a bit like psycho-babble when you start with phrases like “being true to yourself” and “finding the happiness within” but these overused sentiments do actually have some truth in them. If you are constantly looking for someone or something else to provide your happiness, you are setting yourself up for a fall.
Relationships can end, disasters can happen, and if you are solely reliant on these things for your happiness, well-being and contentment, when they fail, so will you. However, if you learn to be a little more self-reliant when it comes to happiness; if you can take control of your state of mind and find an internal source of happiness, the chances are that when things go wrong on the outside, you will be able to protect the inside.
1. The First Steps
Going it alone and relying on yourself can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you have never tried it before. It is not about cutting yourself off from people or not pursuing things that make you happy, it is more about re-evaluating where your main source of happiness comes from. It is only natural that we have passions in life, whether that be a career, a hobby or a relationship, and if that thing was suddenly taken away from us, it would only be natural to feel loss and miss that thing, but would your whole life collapse? If you were completely reliant on that thing for your happiness then the chances are, that for a time, yes, things would collapse.
So what is the first step in finding that inner source of happiness? Contentment is key. Being satisfied with what you have and who you are is vital to good mental health and a good foundation for happiness. Dissatisfaction only breeds dissatisfaction, so learning to love what you have can break that cycle and give you a much sunnier outlook on life. As the queen of talk shows, Oprah Winfrey, said,
“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”
It is great to have goals in life and they can help you to focus on what you want to get out of your life, but sometimes setting these goals too high can actually have the opposite effect. In learning to be content with yourself there may be some things that you have to accept that you may not be able to achieve. And that isn’t a bad thing.
We all have dreams from a young age but sometimes the realities of life mean that they are just not going to be possible to reach. However, if you assess those dreams and put your energies into achieving something more realistic, not only will you reap the rewards of accomplishing what you set out to do, you won’t waste any more energy focussing on what you can’t do.
The power of positive thinking is another one of those phrases that we use but don’t really put into practise. Positive psychology is not just a fad but an actual science that looks at the benefits of living positively. Rather than using psychology to assess where someone’s life has gone wrong, it looks at the positive aspects of people’s lives to see where others can learn from them.
Learning to accept who you are and living for today rather than worrying about what tomorrow may hold can be very liberating and bring great happiness. Focussing on what you are good at rather than stressing about what you find difficult can give you an entirely different outlook on life. Not only does it enable you to see the good in your own life, it can help you to see the good in others too.
Having a positive attitude to your life is also great for your physical self. Studies have shown that positive people actually possess a stronger immune system to ward off infections, have reduced stress levels and, therefore, less cardiac problems and are less likely to suffer from mental illnesses such as depression. So there are some major benefits to learning to love yourself that little bit more.