“True happiness comes from having a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved by cultivating altruism, love and compassion, and by eliminating anger, selfishness and greed.” “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
If happiness comes from your own actions, what actions do you need to take to be a happy human being? Because apparently happiness doesn’t just fall into your lap—you must take risks to get rewards. You must sacrifice and maybe give up something to get something in return. There is no gain without some pain. You must make an effort if you want to find deep and lasting happiness.
So what pain do you need to endure to be happy?
- Do the hard work to find purpose in your life. As the saying goes, the unexamined life is not worth living. So take a look at what motivates you. For example, does fear of failure motivate you to achieve? Do you need the approval of others? When you have negative motivation, you are inviting stress into your life. Likewise, if superficial things motivate you, like money for the sake of money, then deep happiness will be elusive. But if you’re moved to make money so you can have enough to help others, then you’re on the right track. Take a look at what your values are. Take a look to see if your actions match your values. When they do, you’re finding purpose.
- Be willing to risk failure. If you play it safe all through your life, then you’re never going to step out of your comfort zone. And you can’t find true, deep happiness inside your comfort zone because that is the easy way out. Things that come easy are probably not going to make you supremely happy. When you have to strive to achieve then your reward is greatest. But that’s where the risk comes in. You might strive and still not achieve your goal. But not striving at all—total risk avoidance—will likely make you unhappy over the long term. True, it’s a good idea to assess your risk and not jump into situations where you’re sure to fail. But that said, taking a certain amount of risk is usually a necessary component of happiness.
- Don’t let failure keep you down. If you don’t fail every once and a while, then you’re not really trying, are you? You’re not pushing your boundaries. You’re not being all you can be without a misstep here and there. You want to make progress, of course, and that alone can bring you happiness. But the road to your goal is probably not going to be linear. You may take two steps forward and one step back. When you fall down you’ve gotta pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Be resilient. Be persistent. Keep on keeping on. There will be some people who will resist you and disapprove of you. But if your goal is aligned with your good, solid values, then those people shouldn’t matter. Don’t let them get in your way.
- Accept yourself in all your imperfection. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. There is no human being who doesn’t have flaws. This is difficult to accept because we have to live with ourselves and the things we don’t like about ourselves. Often we wish we could live up to standards that nobody could live up to, and the standards may not even be the ones we ourselves set. Often we have a misguided idea of what society demands of us. So calm down and recognize that there are things that are very important to you, like being a good friend, for example. And even if you focus on this, you will not be perfect. You will make mistakes. The people around you will make mistakes. Try to handle them and accept them with grace. Because if you wait until your life is completely perfect before you give yourself permission to be happy, you will never be happy.
Pursue contentment. Be pure of heart. Do your best to live a good life. You may discover, without too much trying, that happiness is all around you, ready for you to take it.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact