‘I’ll be happy when I’m rich.’
‘I’ll be happy when I land my dream job.’
‘I’ll be happy when I’m on holiday in the sunshine.’
Maybe you will be happy then, but why aren’t you happy now? Why do you see happiness as a time in the future, or something to work towards?
Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination.
The sooner you realise that you choose when to be happy and it is only your mind that can convince you that you are happy now or might be in the future, the better.
You must learn to appreciate the here and now, to value the small things and figure that in order to be happy long-term, you must be happy with what you’ve got, or change this, because you can’t depend on a destination in the future for your happiness – that day may never come.
Can we be happy all the time?
I mean, I don’t see why you can’t, but it’s very likely that you won’t be.
Things happen in life where we cannot be happy 100% of the time; it’s just unrealistic.
There will be times when we deal with grief, with a job we don’t like, with rude people, and with difficult situations.
However, for 99% of the time, we can choose happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination
Are you happy right now? I’ll guess that you probably said ‘no’.
With lockdown, not being able to see your friends and family, no holidays, no days out, no trips and the world seemingly very bleak, it’s hard to think that we’re happy.
So we say, ‘I’ll be happy when lockdown’s over,’ or ‘I’ll be happy when I have my first pint in a pub again,’ or ‘I’ll be happy when I can hug my mum.’
All of which are very true, but we can be happy right now in our own circumstances. If we spent the past year being unhappy due to lockdown, we are only letting it get the better of us.
This is why we have to learn to appreciate the smaller things in life and look forward to our morning coffee, reading our book or our takeaway on a Friday night.
If we don’t see the joy in the little things, we will be constantly chasing that feeling of happiness which will never come.
How to practice gratitude
Finding joy in my morning cup of coffee makes it so much easier to get up every morning.
I set my alarm for 6.30am and picture sitting on my sofa with my cup of coffee and my book which has now become my favourite part of the day.
Related post: Five Ways to Practice Gratitude
Months ago I was waking up at 8.30am and cursing having to get out of bed to go and sit at my laptop.
Now I appreciate every day that I am able to work from home, spend time with my boyfriend and have a relaxed morning routine where I’m not rushing out the door after getting ready for work in 15 minutes.
Another favourite part of my weeks is my lunchtime walk around the docks where I live.
I pop into the coffee shop where the lady now knows my order and I listen to a podcast on my walk.
I value the time I’ve spent in Liverpool during lockdown, feeling grateful to be back in my favourite city for a short while and feel grateful for living by the water – something I’ve always wanted.
Such small things that we can take for granted all of the time, but when you really see the joy in these small things and appreciate them, they take on a new meaning and you become more present with your every day habits.
The small things in life
Like I said above, you have to start appreciating the smaller things in life in order to feel happiness.
Happiness won’t come in a Louis Vuitton box or a Gucci belt.
It might for all of five minutes, but maybe happiness comes from your mum making you a cup of coffee every morning, or a friend sending you a care package, or going for a walk with your best friend.
These small things with little value that mean more and have a long lasting impression.
If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we have to show more appreciation for our family and friends and our relationships.
Going for an outdoor walk and coffee with a friend is of more value to me than saving money for a designer handbag.
Value the people and real things in your life instead of material things, and you’ll be much happier, trust me.
Pining for the future
One of the things I’m very guilty of is pining for the future. I think about my life in a years’ time; where will I be then, what will I be doing, where will I be living.
Instead of living in the here and now, my head is 12 months or more into the future.
One thing I’ve recently learnt is that no matter how much time you waste thinking about the future – whether that’s with hope or dread – it’s coming anyway.
So you can sit and fear the future, you can sit and try to speed the process or you can enjoy where you are right now because it’s going to appear in front of you whether you give it a second thought or not.
I spent my final year in university dreaming about going to New York, not knowing if it was even going to happen, but in my head I was constantly thinking about what my life would look like in the Big Apple.
I’m not saying I wasted a lot of my time thinking and dreaming about NYC, but NYC happened anyway and it happened very quickly.
As I sit in my flat in Liverpool typing about it, it feels like only two weeks ago I was in my final year flat dreaming about the prospect of living there, now here I am six months after spending a year there.
So please don’t waste that time by constantly having your head in the future and wondering what that future is going to look like.
Enjoy where you are now and look for the happiness in where you are right now.
Be at peace with yourself
Being at peace with yourself means you are most likely at peace with life itself.
There are so many books about mindfulness and human behaviour that I’ll mention in a minute, but once you learn about human behaviour and dealing with your thoughts and emotions, you’ll have a much better relationship with life.
By reading these books and understanding certain behaviours, I no longer jump to irrational thoughts, I no longer feel pangs of jealousy or talk about anyone behind their back.
I feel a pang of emotion and straight away I address it, accept it and move on.
There is honestly no point in stewing and stressing over what other people are doing, their successes, their lavish things or what they post on social media.
I’ve written a lot of blog posts about how social media can make us feel and the effect it can have on our mental health, but I now look at influencers living their best lives in Bali or Australia and love that I can live it through them, and maybe one day make it out there myself for a short time.
I look at people losing weight, joining CrossFit and becoming super toned and might feel a little jealousy while I wait on my Chinese order to arrive, but I look at my life and I think of theirs and I realise that our priorities are not the same and that’s ok.
I’m happy doing me and I’m happy for them doing them.
Once you are at peace with yourself and others (since we have an inside view into everyone else’s lives thanks to Instagram), we become at peace with life and are happy with what we have.
I may sound like your university lecture right now, but here are some books that will help you lead a happier life and realise that you have so much happiness already and where to find it.
Happiness doesn’t come in a designer bag or a cheque, it comes in the people you love and your passions and hobbies.
Find happiness in the small things and you’ll learn to love life every day.
Related post: My 12 Favourite Self-Help Books
What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey
From all of Oprah’s life experiences, she has gleaned life lessons – which, for fourteen years, she’s shared in O, The OprahMagazine’s widely popular ‘What I Know For Sure’ column, a monthly source of inspiration and revelation. Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful book packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme – joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power – these essays offer a rare, powerful and intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women, while providing readers a guide to becoming their best selves.
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Are you ready to change your life? In Eckhart Tolle’s ground-breaking book, he gives you the spiritual framework to:
– Understand yourself better
– Manage, manifest and achieve your goals
– Reach your full potential
– Channel conflict into something positive
– Change negative habits
– Live in the moment
Open your mind and follow Tolle’s guidance to happiness and health in the modern world.
The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
In The Universe Has Your Back, New York Times best-selling author Gabrielle Bernstein teaches readers how to transform their fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in the book guides readers to release the blocks to what they most long for: happiness, security and clear direction. The lessons help readers relinquish the need to control so they can relax into a sense of certainty and freedom. Readers will learn to stop chasing life and truly live. Making the shift from fear to faith will give readers a sense of power in a world that all too often makes them feel utterly powerless. When the tragedies of the world seem overwhelming, this book will help guide them back to their true power.
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
Depression and anxiety are now at epidemic levels. Why? Across the world, scientists have uncovered evidence for nine different causes. Some are in our biology, but most are in the way we are living today. Lost Connections offers a radical new way of thinking about this crisis. It shows that once we understand the real causes, we can begin to turn to pioneering new solutions – ones that offer real hope.