The pursuit of happiness is universal. People the world over strive every day to make themselves happy, even when doing so entails things like going to work and taking care of the kids. Yet look around you. Doesn’t it seem like there are very few genuinely happy people around? Maybe you strive to be happy but cannot quite seem to get there.
Happiness is subjective. What makes you happy might be a source of genuine misery for someone else. Likewise, your happiness might be influenced by circumstances that have little to no effect on someone else. Knowing that, what prevents some people from being truly happy?
Seeking Happiness Externally
London psychotherapist María R. de Almeida says that much of what constitutes modern unhappiness can be traced back to external influences. In other words, we tend to seek happiness externally. We look at what is going on outside our own four walls and think that, if we can achieve something someone else has achieved, doing so will make us happy.
This phenomenon is nothing new. People have been comparing themselves to others for as long as humanity has roamed the Earth. We have always seen what other people have done and falsely believe that our happiness lies in replicating their successes. Unfortunately, technology has only made this problem worse.
From social media to the 24-hour news cycle, we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images. Everyone else’s life seems so perfect compared to ours. Obsessing over social media influencers causes us to feel like we do not measure up. In reality, technology only offers a façade.
The people who tend to influence us most are actually living a lie in the public eye. They do not have it all together. Their lives are not perfect. In private, they experience all of the same anxieties and stresses. Psychotherapy would be just as beneficial to them as to the rest of us.
Finding True Happiness
There is no secret formula to finding true happiness. As such, de Almeida recommends taking the time to contemplate what is truly important. With that in hand, it is possible to more accurately evaluate how effectively those things are being achieved.
Here are some of the things that affect happiness the most:
- Health – The link between body and mind is undeniable. People who are physically unhealthy may find themselves somewhat unhappy as a result. Therefore, improving one’s physical health can also improve mental health.
- Finances – Even though money cannot buy happiness, finding yourself in a tough financial spot can cause unhappiness. Rather than seeking wealth, look to get your financial house in order. It can make an enormous difference.
- Contentment – A big source of unhappiness is discontentment. Learning to be content with your current place in life can lead to a whole new way of thinking.
- Achievement – We are constantly reminded to set goals for ourselves. Should we fail to achieve those goals, unhappiness can creep in. In this regard, the key is learning to identify and set reasonable goals.
There are other parts of life that influence happiness on many levels. Perhaps the one thing they all have in common is their association to reality. Simply put, there is no such thing as a perfect life. Living your best life doesn’t mean you’ll always enjoy optimal health, a full bank account, and family and friends constantly by your side.
Being truly happy is a matter of figuring out what’s important, setting realistic expectations, and being content with where you are. Master those three things and the rest tends to take care of itself.