“People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.” – Eat Pray Love
I really love this quote because it explains the whole point that led me to research about happiness and consequently the reason why I have this blog. I think you need to fight for happiness and not just wait for it to fall into your lap. Sometimes that means you have to make changes. They might be big changes: quitting your job, getting a divorce, moving to another country , travelling the world. Or small changes: sleeping well, waking up earlier, taking up a course, going out more. But sometimes that fight for happiness doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actively do something. Sometimes the effort you have to make is to actually practise acceptance. Instead of fighting against your present situation, you have to accept it and make peace with it in order to find happiness.
I don’t think it’s a choice in the sense that you can just decide “I’m happy now” and you automatically become happy but I think it’s a choice to go after it.
I have been striving for happiness, reading about it, trying different things, making changes. And you might ask me: is it helping? Absolutely! I did go through a rough patch even though I was looking for happiness. I felt like giving up but I didn’t and now I’m finally reaping the rewards of my efforts. I believe that this is the meaning of the quote. You need to try hard to find happiness even if it’s not something you do consciously. Most people don’t wake up one day and think “I’m going on a search for happiness.” However, happy people have decided at some point in their lives consciously or unconsciously to go after what they want, to practise acceptance, to find contentment, etc. I believe it’s more difficult for some people than it is for others. That can happen for various reasons. Maybe your brain, your family or your circumstances don’t help but it is there for you to find. We can all get it if we try hard enough.
I used to feel down about every little thing that didn’t work out. I would get stressed and upset and sometimes even panic. Then I started to look back and I realized that some little things that upset me earlier in my life ended up being for the best. You never know what the future will bring and sometimes you can get more if things don’t go as expected.
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama
I have been trying to keep this in mind all the time and I don’t feel as stressed as I used to. Here are two examples of bad things that ended up being good:
1. Not getting a room
When I was in Cardiff, I had to find a place to stay and I decided to take this room. I sent an email to the guy but he didn’t see it and gave the room to someone else. I got really stressed at the time but it ended up being for the best. I decided to move from Cardiff and got a job as a teacher in Oxford which was what I wanted. If I had stayed in Cardiff, I’d probably still be working at a nightclub since there are not many teaching jobs there.
2. Being kicked out
Fate works in funny ways. My friend had to leave her house and had nowhere to go so she ended up going home to her grandpa’s house. She spent a few weeks with him before getting a job and finding another place. About one month after my friend left, her grandpa got really ill and after some time in hospital, he passed away. If my friend hadn’t been kicked out, she wouldn’t have spent those last few weeks with her grandpa. That time they spent together meant everything to her.
Now when I don’t get the job or the room or when I’m forced to move out or when something is cancelled, I always think: it might be for the best.
Obviously being positive is very important in the search for happiness. However, this post is about external negativity not internal.
Negativity is everywhere. People complain about their lives and the world all the time, even on social networks. The news tells us about all the bad things that are happening. There are many movies and TV programs displaying horrible situations.
I understand the need to be informed about the world problems. However, we also need to be informed of the good things. When you’re fighting depression in particular, it is better to avoid these negative reminders. When we are depressed, the smallest things can trigger unhappy feelings.
Some people might disagree with this but there were times in my life when I decided to not read/watch the news. I was too overwhelmed by my own problems and I found myself crying over something that happened to somebody else on the other side of the world. There was nothing I could do about it and me reading that wouldn’t help it in any way. Sometimes we just need to take a break from all the negativity out there. You have to help yourself to be able to help others.
Sometimes we feel down for long periods of time and we feel that we don’t know the exact reason.
In this case, it is very useful to keep a record of what makes you happy and sad each day. When you have to write it down and think about your day, you will notice more clearly what is getting you down. You become more aware of yourself and your needs.
Write everything down. Don’t worry if they are silly things. They might seem silly at the time but they are obviously meaningful to you. Maybe you felt sad because of some news you read or because you missed the bus. Maybe you felt happy because you ate a cookie. When you are feeling depressed, some problems might look bigger than they are but how you felt at the moment is still real and you shouldn’t ignore it. You can gain deep insight into yourself. This record is for you not anyone else, so be honest. What really made you happy today? What really made you unhappy?
After keeping this record for some time, you can read back and take notes of the recurrent things. You might notice there is a pattern and the same things are making you unhappy again and again. Then you can make changes and also try to do more of what makes you happy.