You often hear that people want to be happy, but do not know how to achieve a state of happiness. What if I were to tell you that every single person reading this has the power to attain happiness using the power of their mind?
When you type the word “happiness” into Google, what comes up is a short description along with an example, which goes as follows, “the state of being happy,” and “she struggled to find happiness in her life.” Looking through the lenses of a neurologist, the higher the levels of endorphins your body produces, the happier you might feel. So what actually causes the level of endorphins to go up. Well, the list is enormous, try running, sunlight, eating correctly, meditating, and many more for starters. The point is, there is not a single path towards attaining happiness, it is simply a state of mind.
I began this journey towards attaining happiness after a difficult chain of events in my life, about two years ago. It was a period of my life where everything that could be going wrong, was going terribly. It was one of those moments where you had to sit down and ask yourself,
“What the heck is going on?”
I began reading various self-help books, studied religion and philosophy, and began taking medication accompanied by therapy. Before I go any further, I would like to emphasize the importance of reaching out for help when needed.
What helped me the most was being vulnerable with the people closest to me in my life. Luckily I live with over 60 people, which in and of itself can be a blessing and a curse. The power of vulnerability has helped me a lot, opening up about who I really am, about what I really struggle with, and about my passions and motivations helped me release the emotional backpack I’ve been storing my entire life. Another thing is meditation and mindfulness. Simply focusing on my breathing and letting go of my ego has helped me be more present and happy. I like to say that meditation is like preparing for death before dying. Knowing that makes me happier.
It really are those simple mind shift changes that cause a person to be happy.
The Buddhist monks of Tibet meditate for hours on many ideas, including the idea of happiness. Buddhists believe that suffering is inevitable, thus one must suffer in order to attain happiness. You cannot have one without the other, they are interchangeable. After all, how can you know you feel happy if you’ve never felt the opposite of happiness. I agree with the fact one must suffer in order to truly appreciate happiness.
One person that has really motivated me to literally chase happiness is David Goggins. He is not the person to tell you to be happy, he is focused on making you go through discomfort. It’s like the Ying and the Yang. Happiness in my opinion, is a choice, and it all starts with the power of your thoughts. I am not telling you to take cold showers or push yourself to your limits, after all, the journey towards happiness is different for everyone.
Be wary of attaining simple pleasure vs happiness, there is a difference. Pleasure is achieved through the satisfaction of achieving goals, entertainment, sexual activities, and levels of dopamine and serotonin, plus many more. A serotonin deficiency results in symptoms such as poor memory, low mood, craving for sweet or starchy food, difficulty sleeping, low self- esteem, anxiety, and even aggression. Some of the best ways to increase the amounts of dopamine and serotonin are exercise, spending time in nature, nutrition, and meditation. The thing about pleasure, is that it is never enough. This is especially important for leaders who constantly pursue goals in their careers. Work hard enough for a promotion, achieve a new record quarterly revenue, for aiesec leaders this can become overwhelming.
Too often, we measure our worth by goal achievement, so focused on the task at hand that we forget to be happy ourselves.
Self-care is crucial to attaining happiness. Taking at least an hour every single day to focus on yourself. For me it varies, sometimes I do yoga, sometimes I read, I watch television, or play video games. Sometimes it lasts for more than an hour, and that's ok. Taking the time to recharge is crucial for everyone, it allows for future bursts of energy and motivation. I run sprints, not marathons when going through life, and self-awareness has allowed me to discover this about myself.
This one might be controversial, accepting death. The idea of dying brings me peace, it makes all the problems life has to offer less relevant. For example, I understand that I have a finite amount of time before dying, and I want to make the most out of this experience, don’t get me wrong, I love my life and want to achieve as much as I can before it is my turn to go. Accepting death and letting go of your ego allows me to feel happier during moments that are cherishable. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the enlightened one. I still feel the tough moments in my life, I have my own demons I fight with. But I try to understand that I have the power to dictate the way I feel, and how I respond and react to situations.
Emotional intelligence is a trait that is highly sought after in this business world, especially cross-cultural intelligence. Understanding that emotions are a universal trait gives us such an advantage in communicating with one another, but it also allows us to better understand ourselves.
Our mind is a powerful tool, if we know how to use it. The field of psychology allows us to better understand what motivates us and drives our behavior. Knowing the self is very important to our state of happiness, and it is important to understand that it is not possible to be happy all the time. Going back to the Buddhists saying that suffering is inevitable, it’s important to understand that happiness is a mindset, and it is not permanent. Without suffering, one cannot achieve a state of happiness, and you cannot have one without the other, so next time you want to stuff your face with those cookies, how about you make yourself wait a few hours to really enjoy those cookies, and maybe limit yourself to how many you can have. Not only is this discipline training, but it will make you appreciate the little things, and really reap the benefits of a happy mindset.