The dialogue about happiness has not changed much for the past 3000 years since ancient Greek and Roman times.
But people pretend that everything has changed and that more people are unhappy than ever. That’s supposed to be because we’re more connected than ever.
You read it all the time. “Technology makes people feel lonely and depressed!”
I agree that technology itself has changed. But human nature has not. People have been unhappy, lonely, miserable, and sad since the start of modern civilization. We still ask ourselves questions like:
- Do I like my job?
- How about my house?
- Does my partner make me happy?
- How much money do I need to be happy?
We’ve been thinking like that for centuries. And if you have a similar thinking process, I can tell you that it’s wrong.
Conventional thinking about happiness implies that other things or people make us happy. Have you ever thought about that?
Why is it that we believe something always has to make us happy?
I think that’s the biggest problem with happiness. Why do we keep associating happiness with external things like career, love, and money?
When are you happy?
When you have a job that you love? A good relationship with your partner? A bunch of money?
But what about when you get bored with your job? Or when your relationship becomes impossible to bear? Or when your money never seems enough?
I’ve written about how I pursue usefulness instead of happiness. And that when you make yourself useful, you feel happy.
A lot of people resonated with that idea because it puts ourselves in the driver’s seat. But that raised an important question.
“How do I know I’m happy?”
It’s a question you can only ask when you think about this concept on a deeper level. You see, most of us never think about measuring happiness. Or, we simply assume we know how to do it.
Yes, we can define our career, money, relationship, and health goals—and we make those things measurable.
And yet, we don’t measure the one thing that makes all those things worth it: Our own happiness.
Never rely on externals for your happiness
That’s my only measure for happiness. I ask myself: “Am I relying on something or someone to make me happy?”
I want my answer to be “no.” Let me explain:
- I love my work, but it doesn’t make me happy.
- I love my family, but they don’t make me happy.
- I love my other half, but she doesn’t make me happy.
- I just AM happy.
Life is too short to go through personal suffering. We can’t put our own happiness in other people’s hands.
Happiness is a state of mind. It’s entirely within your control. Just like you can make a decision to do something useful with your time, you can decide that you are happy.
“But nothing in my life makes me happy.”
There you go again! You’re trapped in the old way of thinking. It’s easy to blame your job, spouse, family, or even the world for your unhappiness.
I meet people all the time who say that the world is an evil place. Yes, bad things happen to people. And yes, some people are evil. I’m not going to pretend those things do not happen.
But is that within your control? No. So get over yourself and don’t let other things make you miserable. It’s time to stop being a cynic.
Remember: You don’t need a reason to be happy. That’s the whole idea in one sentence. But saying it is very different from truly living it.
All you need to do is be happy — and you are.