By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)
Everyone is constantly struggling to get rid of the worries, hardships, difficulties, problems and unpleasant circumstances in their life and be happy instead. Living things, specifically, humans are looking for happiness in one way or another. Some of them try to use fame as a source of getting happiness. Some think to shun their worries and become happy with the help of their wealth and riches. There are some people who are willing to abuse their powers for receiving some sort of happiness in some way. However, there are some people who deem happiness as the ultimate aim and goal of their lives and try their best to become happy by hook or by crook. As a result, they use any source available to them in order to avoid the sufferings of life and live comfortable, convenient and happy lives.
But a question arises, as what we mean by the term ‘Happiness’. Happiness is the state of being happy or feeling pleased. It is a sense of deep satisfaction or the condition of contentment. Happiness is also referred to as cheerfulness, merriment, delight and so on.
Happiness does not mean to lead a life, free from obstacles, barriers, and hurdles, because everybody can face problems, hindrances, hardships and complications at some point in their life. Instead, happiness is a mental state of well-being. It is aimed, frequently, on the things, people and attitudes that are helpful and beneficial for inspiring and enriching the positive mental, emotional and physical growth of a person.
A great and renowned Greek philosopher and Father of Political Science, Aristotle (384 – 322 BC), has defined happiness, as “Happiness is a state of activity.” He, further, goes on to say about happiness, in these words: “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and author, who says that “Only when we fill our own need and feel satisfied from within can we truly be fulfilled and happy.”
However, the Positive Psychology researcher and a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, Sonja Lyubomirsky, describes happiness in her 2007 book ‘The How of Happiness’, as: “The experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” Similarly, the ancient Greeks defined happiness, as “Happiness is the joy that we feel when we are striving after our potential.”
Likewise, “Research in the field of Positive Psychology and Happiness, often, defines a happy person as someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest and pride, and infrequent emotions (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger (Lyubomirsky et al, 2005).”
Generally speaking, people use the terms ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ in the same context, but Dr. Shefali Tsabary has distinguished the two terms from each other as such: “The key to joy is not happiness, but the courage to embody your true self.” Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, however, it is known, as delight, jubilation, and gladness, too.
The Various Steps to Happiness:
More importantly, we need to know the different ways, methods, techniques, and factors, with the help of which, one may be able to start living a happy life. Millions of Google search results for the term ‘happiness’ and thousands of happiness-related books are available for sale in the market, but none of these books can help us find happiness in its true sense.
The 14th and the current Dalai Lama (who is considered the spiritual leader of the Tibet and one of the Buddhism’s most important leaders) has explained how and where to achieve happiness in these words: “We all want to be happy and have the right to be. But after years of working with the mind, both training and teaching, we know that to find lasting happiness, we have to look to ourselves, beneath and beyond the mind and its endless distractions, beyond ideas and fantasies of the way life should be, to see the wonder that lies within.”
An American novelist, dark romantic and short story writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864) has highlighted achieving happiness, as: “Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
As already discussed that some people seek happiness in fame; some in wealth or riches, while there are some people who use any possible method for achieving happiness and getting rid of the difficulties and problems of life, but the truth is that there is no single step or factor, entirely, responsible for bringing happiness in someone’s life. Instead, there are different elements and factors that make someone happy in their life.
One interesting and noteworthy fact is that one thing or action can be a source of happiness for one person in life, while the same thing or action can be a means of sadness or unhappiness for someone else. For instance, if there are two people or two countries fighting with each other, the victory of one person or country can be the state or condition of happiness for the winner, but it can be a great source of sadness for the loser.
Some of the steps, actions, and factors responsible for bringing happiness into someone’s life are described one by one, as follows:
Step One: Recall Your Success Stories: If you are worried about your present or future, you can encourage yourself by celebrating your triumphs and successes you have had in the past. The majority of people tend to use most of their mental energy on their failures in the past and make themselves unhappy and distressed by reminding themselves the things that went wrong rather than the things that went well in the past. Take things easy that do not go completely into the correct direction that you wish and celebrate anything that goes on the right track. If you repeat the cycle of negativity that focuses on failures and defeats, you will never be happy, content and relaxed.
Step Two: Perform Some Physical Activity: Exercise is hugely helpful for your personal growth and mental nourishment. Even a small amount of physical activity is useful both for your psychological and physical well-being. Exercise is a natural anti-depressant that can benefit your outlook and attitude and is very important for improving your sleep. With the passage of time, taking any physical activity or doing exercise can make you happy with your physical appearance as well. This is because of the significance of exercise that Dr. Jason Rentfrow, from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, once said: “Our data show that happy people are more active in general. However, our analyses also indicated that periods of physical activity led to increased positive mood, regardless of individuals’ baseline happiness. There have been many studies about the positive psychological effects of exercise, but what we have found is that, in order to be happier, you don’t have to go out and run a marathon – all you’ve really got to do is to, periodically, engage in a slight physical activity throughout the day.”
Step Three: Say ‘No’ to Past and Future, But ‘Yes’ to Present: If you want to be happy, you will have to forget about all the bad and negative things that might have happened to you in your life. You also will have to stop worrying about what might come to pass in the future. Neither recall the unpleasant moments you did have in the past nor start dreading the future, but you should live in the present. This is the reason why Jim Rohn, an American author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker (1930 – 2009) expresses his views about happiness, as: “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” Similarly, an American essayist, philosopher, lecturer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), says, “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
Step Four: Stay in Touch With Positive People: As it is said that ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’, so, people influence and are influenced by those they hang around. If you keep the company of negative people, you are more possible to be influenced by their negative ideas, habits, attitudes, and activities. This is the reason why they say ‘Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.’ This has clearly been highlighted by Samuel Langhorne Clemens (better known by his pen name, Mark Twain), an American writer, entrepreneur, humorist, publisher, and lecturer, as: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Step Five: Manage and Reduce Your Stress: Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. It can happen due to having abnormal pressure, either because of financial worries, an argument with someone, an increased workload or any other such reason. Stress can affect us both physically and emotionally, in a number of ways and in varying intensities. Prolonged or excessive stress can lead to several diseases, including mental health issues, like depression and anxiety and such other illnesses, like heart disease, abnormal blood pressure, etc. Stress prevents us from enjoying our lives in various ways, which can cause negative long-term effects, ranging from insomnia (inability to sleep) to depression and anxiety and high blood pressure. Thus, it is important to take things easy and relax and not to worry about failures, losses, and disappointments in life. This is how Michael J. Fox, a Canadian-American actor, author, producer, and activist, has explained in one of his quotes, as: “There is always a failure. And there is always a disappointment. And there is always a loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”
Step Six: Take Charge of Your Life: The more you manage to control your daily activities the easier it will be for you to avoid problems in your life. If you keep an eye on each step you take in your daily life, it will be more possible for you to have a positive outcome of whatever you perform which can lead to a happy lifestyle for you. You will have to take certain things into account while managing to take charge of your life. Some of such actions you need to take include the following:
1. Be Grateful in Your Life: You should live with an attitude of gratitude, as grateful people are both happier and healthier. It is hugely significant to be thankful for every pleasant and good thing you may have in your life and to thank and honour those whom you owe for them. This sort of behaviour can create a sense of responsibility within your mind for giving back something good more often to those who are less fortunate and poorer than yourself. This is the reason why Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922), a French novelist, essayist, and critic, has said, as: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
2. Give Back/Be Good to Others: It is really better to give than to receive. You could get the feeling of happiness by helping others in some way. You could boost your good feelings by doing something good in your society. This is because of such sense of realization that Warren Buffett, an American businessman, once said: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” In the same way, the same viewpoint has been emphasized upon by a great British politician, poet and a hero of the Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) as: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
3. Be Patient: If you are able to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious, this could have positive results for you in life that can lead to you being happy and content. This was because of the pleasant outcomes of having patience in someone’s character that a famous American philosopher, writer, scientist, politician, patriot, Founding Father, inventor and publisher, Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) praised a person with patience, as: “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Likewise, an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat and diplomat, Geoffrey Chaucer, has described patience, as: “Patience is conquering virtue.”
4. Have Confidence in Yourself: If you have the quality of being certain of your abilities or trust in yourself, you could succeed in your objectives that could result in you being happy. Because of the importance of confidence, it is Helen Keller, an American author, who says, as: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” The same author further goes on to say, as, “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.”
5. Plan Your Day in Advance: If you have a detailed proposal, in place, for doing or achieving something beforehand, you are more likely to succeed in what you are going to do. If you have your sleep, diet, social life, exercise and other such activities of life on time and appropriately and stay within your budget, you could avoid so many problems in life which could put you on the right track of happiness. This is due to the significance of planning that an American businessman, Paul J. Meyer, shed some light on the importance of a planned and organised life, as: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.”
6. Be Positive: You should live a constructive, optimistic and confident life instead of having negative feelings and thoughts on your mind while dealing with others. Being positive is very beneficial for having a successful life, as constructive views, ideas and feelings open different doors of success in life. The importance of having positive thoughts has been discussed by a renowned Indian actress, Tena Desae, in these words: “Stay positive and happy. Work hard and do not give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people.”
7. Be Friendly: If you behave towards others kindly, pleasantly and politely, they will have a positive and good image about you. If you have friendliness, good humour, warmth, and affection for people, they will treat you in the same way that can help you in being happy. An American conservative nationally syndicated radio talk show host, author, columnist and public speaker, Dennis Mark Prager, has highlighted a good nature and friendliness, in these words: “Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
8. Be Optimistic: Life is not a bed of roses, but it is a continuous battle for survival. Everyone can have problems, defeats, setbacks and unpleasant moments in life, but it is very important to have a hope, aspiration, expectation, ambition, and dream for having a good future. Melchor Lim has clearly explained the importance of hope in these words: “Life is hard, but there is still hope; hope for tomorrow, a day where anything can happen. You could visit new cities, new countries; you can start a New Day, a New Life. It is your choice to do whatever your mind can think up. Because life is a blank page…….an empty photograph, just waiting to be filled with whatever it is that you love.”
9. Do Not Compare Yourself With Others: If you start comparing your personal situation with that of a richer, well-to-do, healthier, more famous and more successful person, you will become jealous, depressed and unenthusiastic. This can make you lazy, less interested and half-hearted, while living your daily life. Instead of whinging/whingeing and complaining about your current circumstances, you should think about those who are poorer than you are or those who are in a worse situation than you are in. If you think you are not healthy or if you are ill, you should go to the hospitals and visit different wards where you will come across a huge number of patients suffering from enormously fatal, dangerous and agonizing ailments, diseases, illnesses, and other medical and psychological conditions. This is because of this reality of life that Ralph Waldo Emerson once expressed his views about this issue, as: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” However, the same topic has been discussed more clearly by Shannon L. Alder, an inspirational author, as: “Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.”