What do we have to do to be happy?
I know asking this question at 8 PM on a Sunday evening is kind of weird and random (and somewhat snobby), but if you think about it you will find it rather relevant.
Whenever I get to sit down and have some deep ass conversations with my besties, it seems that we all low key bear in mind the same kind of concerns, which are reflected in our topics – how to achieve and maintain a happy life. I bet this conversation will or has already emerged at some points in your life.
We tend to see happiness as something highly desirable, essential and mandatory to maintaining a good life. I’ve been one of those who held on to this philosophy, until I realized that the truth is, in fact, entirely opposite. The harder you try to chase happiness, the further it drifts away from you.
If so, then what on earth do we have to do to feel happy? The answer might make you want to punch me in the face for dragging you into this, but there’s nothing we can do at all.
Let me tell you, I had already constantly tried and failed in the pursuit of happiness. It was one of the darkest times of my life, but instead of lying there and cry, I decided that I wanted to make every single day a happy day by doing things that I supposed will make a normal person feel happy.
I got out of the house every day, tried to call all my friends and made sure to spend some quality time talking to them. I turned on the radio more frequently, kept a keen eye on the latest songs and trending movies and even attempted to hang out with some of my online friends. I caught the train to places I had never been to, checked out exhibitions in the nearby museum and bought myself a brand new marker set to draw something new every day. Sounds like a fancy life of someone who actually has a life, right? But unfortunately, I have never felt more lost than I was at that time of my life.
The harder I tried to create happiness, the more disappointed I became, because at the end of the day, I was left with nothing but the feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness. After a long and dreary day of searching for happiness, and I became the most unhappy person on the planet, I thought.
I never knew the reason why, until recently.
Throughout my life, I have overrated happiness.
I realized that I was forcing myself to feel happy from all the things that I do. In fact, I am addicted to the feeling of being happy. Whenever bad things come at my face, I couldn’t help but feel like the most miserable person that has ever lived on Earth.
Why keep on searching for a life vest, when all you could do is relax and allow your body to float on the water?
Instead of relentlessly seeking for happiness like other people around me, I realized that peace of mind is what needs to be nurtured and protected. Happiness is like the kind of fuel that can be consumed over time, while peace of mind is the eternal machine that drives you to what you seek.
If you ask me “What is peace of mind, and how to achieve it?”, then well, what a shame, I haven’t really thought about that yet. But if you have been through something like I did and feel exhausted in the pursuit of happiness, then take a break and relax for just one day (if your boss allows you to).
Instead of searching for what I want, I started fulfilling my life with what I truly need. I stopped searching for fun in places I don’t belong to, put an end to those unnecessary empathetic pats on the shoulders from my friends, and screw away the fear of being alone. I listen to the voice within, telling me exactly what I need to do and how I should stop turning myself into a miserable person. I have learned to be more grateful, to forgive and to ignore things that add zero value to my life. Most importantly, I stopped overrating happiness.
When you live your life with a peaceful mind and acceptance, happiness will eventually find its way to you. For my part, I no longer see happiness as the fuel of my existence, but rather a motivation in life.
And now, it’s your turn, my friend. Have you ever felt stuck in the pursuit of happiness?
Visual design by Vy Le.