People have many differing views on how to create happiness. Some say it comes from being able to achieve all that we desire, while others say it is wrong to chase money because money does not bring happiness.
As a young adult, I have also spent a considerable amount of time deciding which approach is suitable for me. There are times when I got so confused that I ended up not knowing how to be happy myself. Maybe you are also confused or unsure about how to be happy. So today I would like to share four personal realizations I’ve had this year that allowed me to find happiness by learning to first be happy with myself.
The 4 Life Lessons That Taught Me to Be Happy with Myself
Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.
– Parker Palmer
Being different is human
For the longest time, I thought I should be the same as everyone else. I grew up in an environment where it seemed that the road to happiness had already been decided for me: go to church every Sunday, go to school, get a stable 9-5 job, and get married. I used to think that this is the rite of passage of every young adult in my home country. Yet as I grew up, I found that while this trajectory might not be wrong necessarily, it was not suitable for everyone — and not for me.
I began to see that everybody has different values and opinions about what happiness is. There are different ways to be happy. The goal of our journeys is to become self-aware enough to know what makes us happy and to let others find their own happiness in turn.
To become self-aware, I try to practice daily self-reflection and meditation. I reflect on what makes me sad each day and what makes me happy. I meditate to understand more deeply what is clouding my mind and to be more present in my life. As I became more aware of what makes me happy, I tended to focus more of my energy on those activities and to deal more actively with the things that make me sad. I also learned to be confident in living my own life and to not bother with how other people live theirs.
You need to follow your passion
To discover what makes you feel passionate, try to find the things that you can spend all day doing even when you are not paid to do so. When you’re truly passionate about something, you stick to it, especially when the going gets tough. As an aspiring writer, I have faced a lot of the same setbacks that a lot of writers have to face. I have faced rejections, uncertainties, and mean comments from people who disagree with what I write. But as much as I sometimes want to give up, I realize that happiness lies in being grateful for what is good in your life and in accepting what can be improved.
I have learned that happiness also comes from letting go of what I cannot control. I cannot control whether my articles will get published or not. I cannot control how people comment on them. What I can do is do more research, proofread more carefully, and continually strive to improve my writing skills. But I can never guarantee that everyone will like the contents. You must always focus more on the process than the outcome, and on what you can improve instead of seeking to control. We can only ever do our best and accept whatever will come.
You have to accept yourself for who you are
Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching television and Hollywood films, particularly in my adolescence. Like many others, I began to develop the idea in my mind that beauty only comes in one format: tall, skinny, with long hair and fair skin. This led to me not liking what I saw in the mirror for a long time, until I realize that I can be beautiful too. Accepting yourself as you are is not always an easy feat, as it takes a lot of time and energy to overcome our regrets and insecurities. It takes a lot of courage to confront the memories and feelings that you have suppressed deep inside.
That is why it is important to practice gratitude daily. Instead of trying to change what happens or blame yourself for your negative thoughts, try to be kind to yourself. None of us is perfect and none of us will ever be. Remind yourself this every day, or write these thoughts down in a journal if you like to write. You can tell things like, “I am worthy, not for what I have, but just for who I am. I know I am still a human in progress. I make mistakes sometimes, and I have problems in my life. But they are not bigger than what I can overcome and accomplish. I am grateful that I can still breathe, have a roof over my head, can still eat, and can still sleep soundly in my bed. I can get through today.”
You can say or write anything that bothers your mind, but the key to practicing gratitude is to not deny that problems exist, but rather to accept that pain is inevitable but that there are always good things going on in your life.
You can change the narrative of your life
This is something new that I learned this year. Changing the narrative of your life requires that you reframe the way you have viewed it until now. It is not an easy thing to do because changing the way we think requires a lot of time and will. It is often difficult to change what has been ingrained in our unconsciousness for many years. However, with daily practice, it becomes possible.
For example: For 18 years of my life, I thought of my sensitivity as a weakness. The narrative of my life has always revolved around “the cry-baby who feels too much.” But as of a couple of months ago, I began to realize how my sensitivity has actually allowed me to connect with a lot of people. From there, I began to reconstruct my life narrative by seeing myself as “the girl with a lot of compassion.” I began viewing my sensitivity as a strength and to look at myself more positively.
There is no rule that says you cannot change the narrative of your life. Sometimes, what makes us sad the most is in turn what can make us happy. We just need to try to look at it with a different perspective.