We all strive for this thing called happiness, without really knowing how to get there. We follow what the world tells us will make us happy. Good looks, a better house, a new car, a good career, more money, a good-looking spouse, and so forth.
But do they really make us happy in the end? Most find that these things do not provide more than momentary happiness, and often come with a lot of unhappiness attached to it. That new car may make you really happy for awhile, but perhaps the financial burden results in unhappiness in other areas of life.
There is happiness to be found through simplicity. If you really think about it, much of the stress and anxiety in your life comes from things that are complex. Yes, much of life needs to be complex, however we often self-impose complexity in our life in the pursuit of what we think will make us happy. It often comes from a desire to do something better than others, and impress them. This is your mind working toward a misguided attempt to be happier this way.
It may also come from an innate need for perfection. For example, going on vacation and having to plan every detail, ensuring you have the perfect activities that will impress your friends, and that you found the best prices. This may actually set you up for greater stress if things don’t work out in a way you consider perfect.
The Mental Component
This goes deeper than your activities however. Happiness through simplicity has an important mental component. Most of us overthink things, as well explained in this article about overcoming overthinking from the WhatSheSay blog.
The rise in popularity of mindfulness and meditation can be attributed to more people discovering this. These techniques teach you how to take more control of your mind and release thoughts that are unnecessary, and likely creating unhappiness. Meditation is a tool that trains your mind with repetition, while mindfulness is a broader skill that can work throughout the day. There are many smartphone apps that can get you started like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, 10% Happier, Waking Up.
Another possibility to explore is minimalism. The minimalism movement is about decluttering your life. Minimalism can include getting rid of non-essential possessions, moving into a smaller house, and focusing more on life experiences rather than things. A popular place to start is with your clothing and shoes. Go through each and every item and ask yourself if you really will use it.
You don’t need to throw it away, if it’s in good condition then you can donate it. This way you know you are helping someone else. Don’t forget the kitchen and garage.
The point is to not just organize and cleanup, rather look at everything and question if you can get rid of it. It may take time, but in the end you will have less stuff, which can help reduce complexity and stress in your life. This article has some additional tips.
Where then is happiness to be found? It can be found not in the things or the accomplishments, but rather in the experiencing of life, the ever present now. The question to always ponder is whether you are placing happiness as a future thing, or a now thing?
Happiness can be found in very simple things if you can quiet your mind and really experience the life around you. A good place to start is get out in nature where you can enjoy water, trees, flowers, mountains, rocks, etc. Also check a book called The Power of Now.
Also, don’t overlook the things that are simple pleasures for many people. Reading a good book, taking a walk, a good workout, a tasty healthy meal, good conversation, or simply listening to some good music. Think about when you have been happy in your life for more than a brief moment, and consider what exactly was the circumstances? These are important clues as to what you want to actively seek more of.
If your greatest happiness has been being with friends, then that tells you to focus on spending more time with friends and making more friends. Explore if you have life balance, e.g. are you devoting as much time on things you know create happiness, vs. things that the world suggests is important?
Relationships and Emotions
Last but not least is in your relationships and emotions. When you find yourself mired in negative emotions within a relationship, ask yourself if the issue really matters, or is it just your ego and pride? Often, once you realize how petty the issue is, you can simply decide to drop it from you mind and move on. Again, meditation and mindfulness techniques can help a lot.
A Small Shift
The great thing is these techniques are not hard. Happiness is something that can be increased with a small shift in your thinking and actions, through adjustments in your thoughts and actions.
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