Tips on happiness

See a therapist.

Life is too short to spend it in misery. If you’re miserable then you probably shouldn’t be reading inspirational blogs on happiness written by random maniacs. You should schedule one-on-one time to talk to someone who is professionally trained to help people improve the quality of their lives. Seeing a therapist is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of resourcefulness. Help is out there. If you need it, get it.

But understand that a therapist isn’t going to be able to wave a magic wand at you and solve all your problems.  A therapist can show you the way out of the darkness, but it’s up to you to make that journey. You’re the only person who can confront your demons, but it sure helps to have a trained professional to walk you through the steps.

Be healthy.

Getting healthy might not solve your problems, but it will make you feel better. I guarantee it. Eat healthy. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of rest. Get a massage on a regular basis. Drink lots of water, and don’t poison yourself. If you do those things your body will feel better, and when your body feels better your mind will feel better.

If you ignore this advice your body will hurt. Living with aches and pains will make you miserable, stress you out and sap the energy and inclination to solve the problems in your life.

Want less, but define and fulfill the wants you do have.

We feel unhappy when there is a disconnect between what we want and what we have. The quickest and easiest way to be happier is to want what you have, and be content with that. However, any virtue taken to excess becomes a vice. Some philosophers have argued that in order to have true happiness you must eliminate all wants. That’s worth considering, but life is rarely so black and white.

Life was meant to be lived. The universe was meant to be enjoyed. Our individuality was meant to be explored and expressed. Fulfilling your wants will bring you happiness. It might not make you happy forever, but our lives don’t last forever anyway. All we have is the moment. In those moments we have the opportunity to find enjoyment and meaning in the things we do, but in order to achieve those experiences we first have to define them and then want them. Just don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Live in the here and now.

It’s okay to reminisce about the past, and it’s essential to explore past traumas in order to bring closure to them. It’s also wise to plan for the future. However, the past is gone forever, and the future isn’t real yet. Life is lived in the here and now. This is where you get to experience the joy of living.

Living in the moment pushes the problems of the past and the future to your peripheral vision and frees you to make the most out of life right here, right now regardless of what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Do that long enough, and eventually you’ll look back on your past and find years of happy memories.

Look at life from the cosmic perspective.

Life has enough problems without making mountains out of molehills. You only have enough time to deal with the problems that really matter. To keep your priorities in perspective it helps to take a step back and look at the big picture.

You live in an inconceivably huge, elegant and powerful universe that offers limitless opportunities.The matter in your body is almost 14 billion years old.You, yourself are a bi-pedal, sentient, autonomous super computer that inexplicably grew out of inanimate matter. There are a finite number of beings like you in the universe, and you will only exist for a short amount of time. For these reasons and more you are infinitely valuable.

Having said that, in the grand scale of things you’re as insignificant as an ant. You’re a fleck of dust flashing in a sunbeam. While that may seem discouraging, there is an upside. On a long enough time scale non of your problems will matter. Your problems are dust in the wind.

You only have time to hold onto what matters. Keep everything in perspective.

Love yourself.

Each and every one of us is a cosmic miracle. Nothing we do or don’t do changes that fact. If there is some force in the universe that fits some definition of the word “God” then that force spent almost 14 billion years creating you. Even if there is no God, the universe went through the same effort. If love is something you do then you are loved by the universe, and you deserve to be loved. Your flaws are specks of dust that are dwarfed by your inherent beauty and potential. You deserve to love yourself, and when you do you make the most of your life, which justifies your existence and turns your failures into stepping stones.

Stop obsessing over yourself.

Love yourself, but don’t obsess over yourself, because again, any virtue taken to an extreme becomes a vice. If you constantly fantasize about your virtues you’ll become conceited, and persistently dwelling on your weaknesses, failures and mistakes will quickly make you feel like you’re living in the Swamp of Sadness. It takes a lot of time and energy to obsess over yourself anyway. As gratifying as it may seem at times, it’s a burden, and all you have to do to shuck that burden off of your shoulders is to stop thinking about yourself so intensely all the time.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

The next time you’re having a bad day, stop and make a list of all the things you’ve been thinking about all day. Chances are most of the items on that list will be negative. Whenever you’re having a great day, stop and make a list of all the things you’ve been thinking about that day. Chances are most of the items on that list will be positive.

It’s a simple truth that the quality of your thoughts effects the quality of your mood. This doesn’t mean you should go through your life religiously suppressing any negative thought. There’s a time and place when it’s warranted to let yourself feel pain, but sometimes our worries are merely the product of worrying. In those cases all you need to improve your quality of life is to quiet your mind and not think anything at all. Or you could consciously replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. If you can make a habit of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, eventually you’ll do it subconsciously.

Be consciously grateful for what you have.

Life is hard, but there is much to be grateful for. Take a sheet of paper and one one side make a list of all the things that make you unhappy. On the other side of the paper make a list of things you’re grateful for. The list of things that make you unhappy may be longer than your list of things you’re grateful for, but over the weeks and months of looking at that list and amending it you’ll come to see that any one of the good things on your list are worth ten of the bad. Life is about the good things on the list, not the bad.

If you have a list of all the things that make you unhappy you can take that list to a therapist and get help from them on solving those problems. Even without the help of a therapist, you can address those issues yourself and check them off until your list of gratitudes is longer than your grievances.

Sometimes you may find it hard to enjoy the good things on your list when there are such horrible items on the other side of the page. Just remember that the point of enduring the bad in life is so that we can enjoy the good. If you don’t let yourself enjoy them then all your suffering is/was/will be in vain.

Eliminate negative influences in your life.

Having the right perspective and a positive outlook are important to being happy. However, this doesn’t mean that all unhappiness stems from having a shitty attitude. Sometimes external forces in life cause you pain and stress completely unrelated to your level of optimism. In those instances the path to happiness is eliminating the sources of that hurt and stress.

If you hate your job then you might need to find another one. If your commute is sapping your will to live then maybe you need to move or find a new job. If your bed is crippling your back then maybe you need to buy a new bed. If there is anyone in your life who regularly makes you feel bad then maybe you need to cut that person out of your life. Eliminating these and any other source of negativity in your life will give you more room to be happy and less reason to be miserable.

Treat other people better.

Treating other people better pays off in immediate karma, aggregate happiness, and it releases positive karma ghosts into society that will come back to reward you eventually. Kindness is its own reward. How much of it you reap depends on how much you sow.

Improve your problem solving and conflict resolution skills.

John Wayne once said, “Life’s tough. Life’s tougher when you’re stupid.” If your life is riddled with problems then you’re obviously in need of improving your problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Read some self-help books, but make sure they were written by someone with a PhD from a reputable school.

Enjoy the little things.

Happiness comes in many sizes. Sometimes happiness is as quiet as a breeze off the ocean, as still as a mountain vista or as brief as a sunrise. These joys may be more subtle than finding the love of your life, but they’re still important pieces of the overall puzzle of happiness. The less you pass these opportunities up the more you will have accumulated by the end of your life.

Invest in experiences, not possessions.

At the end of your life when you look back on it all you won’t reminisce about the expensive decorations in your house or your designer clothes. You’ll think about trip you took to that exotic island with your lover. You’ll think about the people you met at events around your home town. You’ll think about the things you did and the people you did them with, not the things you owned. If you’re going to invest money in happiness, invest it in a therapist and having new experiences before you go out and buy a shiny new toy to fill the void in your life.

Get money, but treat it as a means to an end.

There’s some truth to the old saying that “Money can’t buy happiness,” but money does buy security and freedom, both of which are vital prerequisites for happiness. Plus, since achieving your wants is another important aspect of happiness, and money buys everything, money will help you achieve your wants and make you happy. Money allows you to pursue your dreams. It will help you. Not having money seriously cripples your ability to do anything in life. Poverty is bad for your mental and physical health. It’s depressing. So eliminate your debts, save your money and increase your revenue; you will set yourself up to achieve everything else that yields happiness.

Don’t expose yourself to advertisements.

Advertisements are manipulative propaganda designed to make you feel bad about yourself so that you’ll be motivated to buy a product to solve a nonexistent problem. You would be a fool to expose yourself to that.

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2 responses to “Tips on happiness

  • practicallyilliterate

    Very good blog. First and foremost, I’m not about to act all high and mighty about anything, since I’m an awful hypocrite about this subject myself, but I’m just curious how far you take the “not looking at advertisements” aspect of your own advice since advertising is how things like free blogs and many free services and most of the internet can exist?

    I don’t mind being a hypocrite so I use adblocker combined with other thorough methods of making sure I’m never exposed even by accident to an advertisement on any website ever, but I was just curious if you had a specific moral perspective on this, or like most people you don’t really care.

    Like

    • wise sloth

      Thank you for commenting. I hate that commerce is so heavily driven by advertisements. In a perfect world we would tax billionaires to pay for luxuries like public blog platforms.

      Yes, I am a hypocrite for using WordPress while also telling people not to expose themselves to advertisements, but it doesn’t matter if I’m a hypocrite. It’s absolutely true that advertisements are a sinister manipulation tool. That needs to be said. If I go to hell for being a hypocrite, I’ll take some solace in knowing that I helped spread truth while I was alive.

      Like

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