Ask anyone what they want from life and the answer is universal — everybody wants to be happy. Yet, even as people become increasingly successful and have better access to resources, the question of happiness still remains – so many of us continue to remain unhappy and dissatisfied with life the way it is. The key to happiness then is not material success. Instead, it is a sense of contentment that we need to cultivate in our everyday living.
1) Avoid comparisons: We often measure our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. The media we consume fuels our sense of relative deprivation, where the emphasis shifts from the haves to the have-nots. Each of us has different strengths, priorities and life experiences. Don’t let your own worth be dependent on that of others.
2) Focus on Your Strengths: We all have our share of strengths and weaknesses. While it’s important to learn from mistakes, don’t be over-critical of yourself. Instead, focus on the things that you are good at and harness your strengths to reach your potential.
3) Find Purpose: Doing things simply because others are isn’t going to give you the happiness or satisfaction you are looking for. Find a sense of meaning and purpose in what you do. In times when you find yourself struggling, be guided by your values. Go beyond yourself and strive to make an impact in the lives of others as well. Research has shown that much of our anxiety and depression comes from us obsessively looking within ourselves and becoming preoccupied with our condition. The moment you do something for others without expectation, you feel happier. Altruism can go a long way in creating a sense of well-being for ourselves as well as those around us.
4) Celebrate Your Success: We often beat ourselves up for our failures but don’t always acknowledge a job well done. There’s no success too big or small. Celebrate every achievement, every step forward.
5) Value Your Efforts: Despite our best efforts, things may not always go our way. Remember that while our efforts are in our control, the final outcome is not. Pride yourself on the efforts you put in.
6) Gratitude: Gratitude is a positive emotion that leads to greater appreciation for the positive things in life. Practise gratitude on a daily basis by taking the time out to acknowledge and being thankful for all that you have.
7) Invest in relationships: In our striving for material success, we often tend to take our relationships for granted – probably one of the greatest mistakes we make in our quest for happiness. More than money and fame, it is healthy and supportive relationships that are integral to our happiness. Be it within family, friends, colleagues or the community, take time out to prioritise relationships.
8) Enjoy what you do: Doing things you dislike and waiting for short breaks to enjoy life are likely to lead to unhappiness. Instead, engage with things that you do enjoy so that work doesn’t seem like as much of a chore. In your everyday life, make time for the things that give you joy, add meaning and give you a sense of contentment. Embrace new experiences rather than material acquisitions. Get outdoors and sign up for creative workshops that address your passion.