5 Ways of Happiness (Are All of Them Good?)
Even though something as abstract as happiness is probably impossible to define, I believe that these ways of happiness apply to most people.
1# Way: Happiness from Material things
The first one is happiness from getting material things. The problem here is that this kind of happiness never lasts. I remember saving money as a kid to buy a robot toy for 500 kč. Although it made me happy for a few days, it wasn’t lasting. So, I thought to myself, maybe I need to get something else and that thing would make me happy. As it turns out, I have never bought a thing which would have actually made me happy long term. It was not an iPhone. It was not a new gaming mouse. And I doubt it’s going to be a Tesla car which I want to buy one day.
Even worse for happiness is actually buying things to impress others. Things like expensive branding cloths or watches. There is nothing wrong to have these things but bear in mind that if you are buying them with the SOLE purpose of being perceived by your peers in a certain way, you are stepping into a trap. Why? Because then your happiness is determined by what other people think of you.
Material things are great and necessary, but they do not lead to lasting happiness.
2# Way: Happiness from Shallow Experience
The second up is “shallow” experience. I have seen this go wrong so many times with my friends, especially when they just wanted to visit as many cities as possible in a short period of time to just take pictures for their social media accounts and be on their way back to the airport. Experience is great but again if the only reason is to brand yourself, it will not lead to lasting happiness.
Is taking pictures when you are on a holiday a bad thing? It’s not. It’s great to have some memories in a form of photos or to show the pictures to your friends on Facebook or Instagram, but don’t expect this to make you happy long term.
3# Way: Happiness from Growth
How about “deep” experience combined with self-improvement and personal growth? Being 18 years old, I went to London to study English. I remember I was doing nothing else but writing down words which I didn’t understand and learning them on the underground, on the bus and even sitting on the toilet.
Besides that, I made a lot of friends and improved my communication skills. The time I spent sightseeing from the whole 6 months was probably 2-3 days, but those 6 months had still been the happiest ones from my whole life by then.
4# Way: Happiness from Connection and Contribution
I had plenty of days when I did all the things I planned to do and I felt great about it, but I also had days when I went to the gym, read a chapter of a book, did my school homework and was learning a language and I still felt a bit empty at the end of the day. And that is when I realized that I needed connection and contribution.
I think this is the one thing that people really want and need to be happy. All the material things and shallow experiences are a stepping stone for what we truly desire, which is to connect with other people and contribute.
You don’t need all the expensive things or even be a certain ideal person defined by social norms to connect with other people. I have many friends who I appreciate just because they are optimistic, supportive or just spend time with me.
And the way I contribute to my friends is similar. Sometimes, I just nonjudgmentally listen to them talking about their life. Occasionally, I give them advice which helps them. Sometimes, I just smile and make their day a bit happier. And sometimes, I introduce them to other friends. The point is that you don’t need anything to connect and contribute – just being yourself without any kind of value given is enough for some people.
I get that you might be a solitary soul. In that case, you can still connect and contribute through other ways too.
5# Way: Happiness from appreciation/gratitude and positivity
All of this brings me to the final thing which is appreciation/gratitude. This is the happiness mindset and in a way, it is a subset of 3#Way, but I think it deserves a special attention so I included it as its own topic.
You can queue in a line waiting for bananas and feel very negative about it or you can appreciate the fact that you are living in a developed country where you most likely will die by natural causes… and get the banana after waiting of course.
Any negative situation can be reframed and I suggest you training this skill, because positivity and focusing on what you have rather than on what you don’t, will make you long-term happy for sure. The opposite is, of course, true as well. Try to focus on things that you don’t have and I guarantee you will be miserable.