We’ve been wrestling with how to be happy for as long as history records our existence. It’s a funny thing, “being happy.” For something so expansive, it’s put in a pretty small box at times.
Happiness is our purpose, and we live on the bases of hope.
To lose that hope shortens our life.”— Dalai Lama.
Snoopy found happiness – and sums up how to be happy oh so well – he doesn’t overcomplicate it, he does what he likes even if it’s odd! Gotta love Snoopy! Isn’t that why we love him? He doesn’t give a shit!
This article will help measure happiness through defiant success, and how naturally we might know exactly what we need, yet each of us has different internal metrics. It will show how our world doesn’t end when we are confused about happiness, and that all things are possible when it come to seeking it. I’ll include a story about a guy named Brian who defied everyone and found his happiness by running off to Europe for a hike. The examples will open your mind to the confussing yet the simple subject of your personal happiness
Happiness is not accepting choices it’s celebrating them.
DO YOU SEEK THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS?
If you’re looking for happiness in places others won’t approve, you might be one of the smarter ones. Now, I’m NOT talking about happiness torturing cats. An extreme example would be a doctor that wishes to be a professional pencil carver over healing lives. That’s a pretty odd thing to many. And that’s a real thing, by the way. Pencil carving!
We live in a world where the masses regret their lives. Obligations trap us in what feels like a chain gang, and we’ve created habits that ruin us. I’ve known three doctors who, after two decades accomplishing the goal, wanted nothing more than to make jewelry, the second dreams of owning a yoga and meditation studio, and the other became a FEMA police officer with a rescue dog and all. She was a pediatrician! How awesome? Some might not think so.
Unhappiness is a bummer, and if you’re on the hunt for it, unfortunately, that’s kind of pathetic, but I’ve been there in that mode. You are not alone. However, if you’re not two decades vested in something the world will shoot you for leaving, then hey, you’re not at the bottom of the totem pole, as far as being too damn deep to get out. Ninety percent of people I interview hate their jobs, lives, or something huge in either or both. It blows me away, and initially, people are in bubbly denial to any of these issues, then boom, the bomb. I HATE MY JOB – WHERE’S MY HAPPINESS – HOW CAN I BE HAPPY!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE HAPPINESS?
Maybe you’ll never have happiness, perhaps you don’t want it deep down? Maybe happiness is not what the world claims it is. Try defining it right now.
Not that easy, is it? Or, wow, you’ve got this down. I’ve learned there are few betweens. People are either immediately sure or can’t define it.
If I could sum up happiness, it would be what I’m doing right now. Writing. But tomorrow when I’m sketching, that could be it too. Or next week, when I’m on winter break with my son, now that’s just top of the crop. Oh, and when, I quit working corporate – oo-ah! Oh yeah, bring on the bread, wine, and cheese! I’m a creative type – and I’m not moody like most – but I can be happy sitting in a tree hiding from the world sketching – and the next minute I’m in the kitchen creating. Tree? What tree, I was not sitting in a tree. Then you might find me protesting for human rights taking on the world I was hiding from an hour before that. Creatives, we are just like that.
Cherophobia is the fear of being happy, and it’s pretty common. I know a guy personally. He eats my patience away at times, and I’ve imagined shoving happiness down his throat like you would food with an anorexic person.
There are those addicted to unhappiness. And content to wallow in misery, even boasting about it as some sort of badge of honor.
Those who have touched or have true happiness in their lives are usually less judgmental towards others – and they are able to define their choices. They are proud of their decisions. If you struggle with choices in life, always in turmoil over your life or where you are in it. As well you ignore those who have suffered because of your decisions, yet you justify it with, “I accept my choices.” Along with thinking that others won’t ever understand why you chose your path, then think again, my friend.
Happiness is not accepting choices; it’s celebrating them.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO BE HAPPY?
We all know what we prefer doing in life – but that doesn’t equal the same thing as being happy. For instance, if you prefer binge-watching Netflix shows over reading books, that doesn’t mean you’re happy doing it. You might feel guilty; it might be your distraction from being unhappy, and in all the confusion, how do you know how to be happy?
– but for those who pause, with a teeny tiny bit of thought, it’s not difficult to narrow what makes us tick. And what makes us tick? The things that make us happy in ways nothing else does.
For instance, if your heart weeps when you’re reminded of someone or something you love and miss. This is one of the ticks that defines you. When I see pictures of my friends and family on Facebook, enjoying a birthday or gathering, I cry missing them. Not always with tears, but inside. Most of them live six thousand miles away. Having a family and close friends near me, make me tick. But, if I follow the advice of the conventional world, they say, accept it, enjoy it, make something good of your sorrow. “Your life is here, Efrona,” they say.
I would agree if no choices were available. If I were forced to a regime against my will. But it’s just this fucking world, a world, and destiny I can control. IT’S MY LIFE. Without a second-level analysis of how I should not follow my heart, of how no one else would do what I want to do, I’d never entertained the idea to miss out on my family and friends, be sad, lonely, or alone, I’d look for my ticks, and I’ll do just that and go home. How to be happy for me; it’s that simple.
How will this affect my future? My future will be just that, no bull shit, just the Snoopy, how to be happy, way of thinking. I don’t want to feel the loneliness and hollow life by being away from the most important people to me on this planet. Snoopy is a child, a child does not entertain things led by pain. A child views a mistake as a pause between bites of cake. They wipe tears with forgiveness in an expansive belief to hold the beautiful things in life close to them. Not push them away. It’s when kids grow up that society slowly removes that magic of Snoopy.
IT TAKES BALLS TO FIND HAPPINESS
That kind of love we pretend to look for as we embrace the loneliness being far from our ticks waits for us right where we left it. We don’t have to be lonely, we don’t need to accept or find purpose in unnecessary pain. We don’t always get the best in this world. But did you ever stop to think, that if friends and family were given to you, that you deserve the best from them, with them, and for them? It’s no big mystery how to find happiness, it takes balls – and not giving a shit what the world says. Just do it!
I’ve read, heard, and thought out many scenarios to the dilemma: do we need to look for happiness, as if it’s missing? I think not, but I can attest to the fact that our lives can be so far off track that we really don’t know where the fuck it is. I remember waking up and humorously sitting up in bed at any given time of darkness, asking myself, “Where the hell is it?” “I know how to be happy?” You see, I might have been looking for happiness, but I was not depressed, nor would I ever have given up.
You’ve never met me, but most who do, assume I’m intelligent with a balanced life. I could be pulling your leg – hang in there – you’ll figure out the truth in time. For now, let’s assume I’m intelligent with some balance; therefore, when I say I’ve analyzed every angle of the demon happiness until I was blue in the face, then perhaps it’s worth listening to the results.
There were times when I stood on a corner in London, New York, and Tel-Aviv and stopped random strangers posing the question. “What is happiness, and are you happy?” It was interesting to discover most paused unsure how to put their finger on exactly how to be happy. But some were obviously sure. Happiness was how they lived their lives and who they loved, not who they knew, not how successful they were – and had little to do with their appearance. It was family and the progress in something regularly. It was the success of not giving up on something that mattered, and family was on the top of the list. Many recalled their success in business, but it did not equate to happiness, it equated only to success.
THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL THERE – WALK A LITTLE FURTHER
At one point in my life, frustration and anxiety were so high that even my most favorite food tasted like shit, or had no flavor at all. There were times when I looked happiness straight in the eyes and didn’t recognize it – and when I realized my mistake, that the pain I’d suffered controlled me, I wasn’t sure what happiness felt like at that point. The circle of confusion had one flickering light – one flame at the end of the tunnel that never left; an annoying warning bell the wouldn’t stop ringing until I looked happy in the face and said, “Okay enough, I know your address, and I’m on my way.” So, laugh if you like, we each have different experiences, and if yours matches mine, or differs, hey, we are still a good match for an exchanged learning process.
I can say this, never put down the experience or opinions of others. Who cares if we disagree, as long as we can eat the damn cake and smile together in the end. Some people have been through worse than I have – and happiness was never missing. They probably would narrow their brow at my take on happiness. The one thing we would have in common was the desire to be happy with a healthy, positive attitude around it. What I’m saying is, happiness to me is not torturing cats! It’s balanced in a healthy sense.
Another thought, the conundrum of having a positive attitude and not being happy, is common. It’s possible. I managed it quite well for a few years. Positive is cooking dinner and not starving, it’s getting out of bed and going to work, but happiness is loving the work, and not only eating to survive.
HAPPINESS IS NOT HIDING FROM YOU
First, what is happiness? It’s that thing that makes you feel like you’re the most important, coolest, and relaxed dude in the room. It’s laughing for no reason. It’s a balance inside that works when you’re awake, sleeping, working, or whatever. If you are truly happy, you will not feel left out, alone, lonely, you will feel sure, charged on full power. It doesn’t mean you don’t have moments, but happiness, it’s your real home. Who’s not happy when they are home! No one can take it from you, but life can build a wall you have to climb to get it back. So, ignore the bullshit you read about how if you have to look for it, you’ll never find it. Of course, you’ll find it, it’s yours. But if there is a jagged cliff, eighty feet high, and you’re looking up knowing happiness is right there over the top, you might not be feeling connected to it at that point. Yet, it is there. And I won’t add in the, it’s up to you to find it! I think that’s a given.
Also, the popular narrative, happiness is yours if you look for it, is a quote gone viral; it’s taken over the planet – and has truth in it – but the fine print is left out. Happiness can sometimes take making a journey to other lands before you settle into it. That’s looking for it? Right?
For instance: Brian graduated college, he’s a superstar, he’s ready – and the support team (family and friends) are anticipating his first job! Yep, Brian did it. But where is Brian? He’s in Europe hiking around, growing a beard, and questioning his trek across the divide of lands. Poor guy doesn’t feel happy! Long story short, he spent the next five-years doing odd jobs and avoiding emails from sad, angry, confused family members. Friends, well, those narrowed with a few family members who’ve written him off as the vagrant who left his parents with giant school loans.
Brian followed the path that was supposed to answer all his needs, his future, his happiness. But, his true love was something outside of a career locked in a cubicle that led to a bigger cubicle, that led to a house cubicle, in a city cubicle, you get the point. The pit of his stomach still tightens when he thinks of it. He’s a loser now. Right? Well, not in his book. He’s married to a French woman, and he works as a carpenter in a small village. He does, however, teach international investment at the local community center. His Harvard finance degree was a mistake, but his love to build and help others turned out pretty good for him. For years, he didn’t think he’d find happiness. Going from place to place, and the guilt ate at him to have hurt his family. But again, he didn’t give enough of a shit about what anyone thought of him. He wanted his freedom, the thoughts of working in that office, finding the perfect city wife, and so on, still feels like a dodged bullet. He’s a happy man, and I hope he sees his parents! He’s a pretty lucky guy in all fairness!
At the core of happiness, our needs (Ticks) are significant clues to our true desires. A positive experience like Brian’s education fools even the smartest people. Humans tend to follow a path of evident prosperity, not realizing they took a wrong turn. It’s the negative experience that we ignore while focusing on the positive – and it’s the negative that could put us on the right path again. Therefore, what Brian got out of his education was determined by the good feelings and rewards he thought were coming. But – when he walked into that first job, he knew all those years pushing the negative away would only get worse if he didn’t stop.
Brian ran! Was he that stupid? Was he unaware of what made him happy or exactly how to be happy? Yes and no. Complacency ruled his life while getting an education – and clarity was not his strong suit for years after. But his instinct and strength to walk away from a future he’d have hated was pretty cool. I think he did know where happiness was, and he went looking.
The point here is, happiness takes on many forms. It can be an ocean for some, and it flows to the lowest level. If you’re living where there is no beach, thinking you can pump it to you, you’ll find it’s pretty NOT awesome. Whatever your needs are, is where your happiness waits. If your needs are water, then seek life on a lake, a sea, an ocean, get it. Don’t live on a mountain top. Your needs, “water,” says it all.
Brian’s needs were small groups, quiet village life. Simplistic living, no business suits, and he needed the smell of wood around him.
YOUR HAPPINESS IS IN YOUR CORE VALUES
I’m a guitar player, and the sound of the strings is vital in my life. My son is a pianist, and that brings in the sounds, but when I play, it runs through me. My needs are creative – yes, that’s a huge category, but if I take the time to write the ridiculous list describing my needs, then it’s pretty easy to see what makes me happy. My core values say it all.
And I’ll be delighted to sit with anyone and argue the fact that happiness was never hiding from me, I was never in danger of losing it, but I was in danger of never accepting it.
I absolutely cringe when I read or hear, “If you want it enough, you’ll find it.” Really? That’s like telling a starving child in Africa to just eat. There are obstacles, there are conditions and weighing the positive with the negative is key. Did Brian’s family listen when he spoke about building furniture at a young age? Yes, of course, they did, and they ignored it. His mind was worth more. More? Have you ever wondered why wealthy people buy antiques? They smell good, they look amazing, we don’t have craftsmen anymore because we don’t value them in our modern bullshit era.
We each have a talent. For some, that equates to millions of dollars, and for others, it’s making the best bread ever eaten. History shows us that we are all equal – but humans have created and supported societies governed by the evolutions of our ruling powers and groups within them that distort true happiness to equate to monetary value. Things, more things, bigger things, prestige, and position. Where does that leave most of us? It leaves us pushing our bread-making talents aside to become lawyers. Have you ever had one of those lawyers? They make terrible lawyers and great bread makers!
Brian ran away, and that might not be the reason for his success to find happiness – but for sure, it was the effort to find what suited him that took him to his needs and brought him home. I think we can find happiness wherever we are but to each his own. Perhaps running away is what it takes for some, while others find the support and close contact of friends and family as a way to do it.
I ran away, but where I ran to was key. It wasn’t random, but when I arrived, I used to walk every day, a good fifteen-kilometers. I’d look and watch, feel, and hope that what I was searching for would show up. Well, what I needed was in my pocket (a pen and pencil and a guitar on my back), so I did carry it everywhere, but what I learned as I walked is still something I continue to appreciate. The mundane idea of watching a street vendor make a sandwich is happiness to me. I love human nature.
Finding your happiness and not giving a shit what others think is one of the bests ways to make the world a better place. For when we follow our true gifts, we become the best we can be – and that my friend breeds the most significant discoveries in history — the most prominent successes and things that move our world into a positive future.
If you have a story about how you found yours, please share. And thanks in advance.
Cheers to happiness!
- PsychCentral, Suzanne Kane, How to Be Honestly Happy in the Present Moment
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples: no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple: the philosophy is kindness.”
- Healthline, Ann Pietrangelo, How to Be Happy: 25 Habits to Add to Your Routine
Efrona, what a great article!
I meet with a group every week to try to better our lives with activities and support, we have a diverse 8 total, and after reading your post on the art of being happy, I asked my group to let me read it to them. 7 of us have chosen the wrong careers and stayed in them 20-35 years.
Can I say I had tears in my eyes reading about Brian, I wish I was as smart as that young man. I’ve felt a mix of panic, desperation, and discouragement for 10 years and I want out, but with sadness.
I still don’t know how to do it. How do I link my needs to my real path wiothout going on a trip to Europe? haaha I’ve got teens in school and a hubby who’ll shoot me to find out I want to change, but he gets along well at his work as it’s probably his true purpose.
Deciding you want to change careers can be completely overwhelming. Thanks for the post.
Nicole B says
I do have a story of finding happiness. I wanted to be a horse trainer and live on a ranch when I was a girl, it never left, all through collage I participated in the 4H clubs and even had an adopted horse through a share club where three of us shared the horse and responsibilities that came with owning one. Then I graduated into nursing school and haven’t see a horse in 20 years. I still dream of grass, hay, stalls, I watch every show on tv with horses. But it’s too late. I’m not unhappy nursing, it pays well and is rewarding, but a part of me is hollow. How can I now regain the dream I gave up for a paying career? My father wouldn’t pay for vet school. He’s intentions were valid, but it did change my life.
Nicole B says
Really loved the article too.. thank you, it felt good reading about Brian and I loved your points about looking for it and not judging others who believe different.
You’re Different. I want to say fuck my job and go home to my old life that was fucking great.. I lack the courage and ironically I fucking hate what I’m doing but aren’t we supposed to take the bull shit when we made the bed? I fucked up my life with fear now I’m paralyzed like an asshat. Can’t stop reading your stuff, are you from ha aretz? You sound like it.
Not sure how I ran across your website, but happy to have done it. Really getting into your articles, again I appreciate your views on being happy boils down to not giving a shit about things that don’t matter. Indeed agreed. The self-improvement industry is robbing the desperate daily, when advice like this is free! I’ll be subscribing to your blog… ciao, Mat