Your answer could be yes, no, or I don’t know. Happiness is what most people strive for. Having a purpose and fulfilling it gives someone’s life meaning. Hopefully, throughout this reading, you have some epiphanies of your own as you go through a roller coaster, that I call an experience.
What does happiness actually mean?
To each person, happiness might mean a different thing, but it is safe to say we all want many things. We want more time, more money, more likes.
Think of the one that speaks to you the most. For me, it used to be material things.
I always used to say “If I get this PlayStation, then I will be happy” or “ If I get these headphones, then I will be happy.” After a few days of having both things, the excitement disappeared. It felt so “normal” to have it that it no longer had a real value for me.
What is the problem with this? One of Buddhism’s philosophies made this clear to me: separating yourself from your desires.
No matter what you buy or want, there will always be another thing. This does mean that you should not desire anything at all, but make sure that you understand having one thing is not going to make you happy.
It starts with the false notion of “If I get …, then I will be happy.”
Looking at the essence of this sentence. There is an implied meaning that suggests only after you achieve the “if” statement then your contentment will come along.
The way this sentence is said gives a feeling that something is missing in your life and it is the reason for your current unhappiness. This idea of always wanting more was a cause of a couple of lows throughout my life.
Look at this Human Barbie Doll who had six of her ribs removed just to look like a fictional character.
In the article, she says “People often come up to me and say, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like a cartoon.’ But for me that’s a compliment, that’s what I want to achieve.”
In her situation, there are more surgeries to do and more things she can change about herself.
Not saying that what she did is right or wrong, but make sure you are doing things for the right reasons. Do not do something for social approval, or do it because you feel like you have to, do it because it is what YOU want.
Even though this sounds cliché, no amount of external value you get — whether that be money, praise, drugs — can save you from that terrible feeling of emptiness inside of you.
This is extremely evident when you look at depression levels today. According to CNN, teens spend about 7 hours per day on screens. To make matters even worse, this number does not include school work.
In relation to happiness, social media is a constant grab for attention and creates an environment where people are constantly comparing themselves to unrealistic standards. This makes us sad as we feel sometimes powerless at what we feel like we can not achieve.
Living in the Now When you start appreciating your moments, it starts creating moments of mindfulness that make you aware of every single precious second.
It becomes so no two moments are alike. We become much more content because we escape the cycle of always wanting more.
Appreciating your limited time on this earth does not mean you can not look into the future. I used to emphasize on the future so much, I lost touch with the now. I wasn’t constantly checking with myself if I was happy with what I do.
When I was 12, I wanted to be a lawyer. It was what I believed was going to make me happy. Recently, upon reflection, I realized that I wanted to be a lawyer for the wrong reasons.
The motive initially came from Harvey Specter, a corporate lawyer in the show Suits — if you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it 😊 — the way he was portrayed in the show exaggerates how exciting it really is being a lawyer.
I said to myself “I want to be like Harvey.” What 12-year-old me never noticed, was all the problems that went on in Harvey’s life.
After listening to a podcast with Naval Ravikant, something he said something that really spoke to me.
“I could not just cherry-pick and chose little aspects of their life…You have to be that person. Do you want to be that person? With their reactions, their desires, their family, their happiness levels, their outlook on life, their self-image. If you are not willing to a 24/7 100% swap with that person, then there is no point in being jealous.”
This got me thinking, did I really want to be Exactly like Harvey? No!!!
To put it simply, he was narcissistic. This meant that in reality, he had a deep need for excessive attention and admiration.
The personality disorder also includes many relationship problems and sometimes even trust issues, as well as a lack of empathy for others.
As I am writing this, I am having flashbacks of all the scenes where I saw these exact problems that the Mayo Clinic describes.
Harvey would push people away to protect himself from what he felt like was a weakness. He risked the livelihood of the entire firm just because he can.
Despite what I just described, Harvey is a very compelling and entertaining character. There are just some things that I believe are fundamentally wrong that I do not want to have in myself.
I feel having trust issues and an inflated sense of self-worth is never a good thing, as I feel both of them can be very problematic.
I, then realized that I never really wanted to be like that. Harvey was a very empty person who was always trying to fill a void.
This whole story made me reevaluate what I want. I realized, there is only one of me. Why am I trying to be someone else? There is a perfectly good, unique individual: me.
This also goes to everyone reading this, no one can be a better “you” than “you.” There is no point in trying to be someone else, you are fighting a losing battle.
Emotional Fluctuations The Arabic language has an interesting perspective on happiness itself.
If you look at the word “heart” in Arabic: “qalb”. The root of this word is something that is constantly changing.
In other words, the way you feel is always changing. Think of it as a random number generator, you wake up every day and get a random emotion. Now, it is on you to change to what you want throughout the day.
There will times you are happy, sad, or angry. One problem that many of us face is trying to be happy while feeling a polar opposite emotion.
Trying to distract ourselves with music, our favorite Netflix shows, or talking to our best friends is not always effective.
It might work if you feeling is mild, but when “you are in your feelings”, there is only one person that can fix that: YOU. The key — I believe — is acknowledging how you feel and being okay with it.
Success Life is one crazy adventure. To be honest, that’s probably an understatement. None of us know what this road has for us and it is up to you to make sense of everything.
Everyone has their own idea of what success is, for some of us it could be going up that road to see what is on the other side. it could be about money, fulfillment, or even your spirituality (not necessarily in a religious sense).
Throughout my life, I have changed from one side of the spectrum to the other. This change is usually as a result of some deep conversations.
You probably had them too, these are the rare conversations that usually happens, once every few months. There comes a time in that conversation where something hits you different or an epiphany takes place.
The realization that is an outcome of that conversation, perplexes you. You have a moment of silence in honor of your new-found knowledge.
Those moments are fundamental anchors in my life and kept me in line when I was out of control. These anchors together attached make up my meaning; the reason I get out of bed in the morning.
My first exposure to my meaning came from a trip to Egypt, I saw kids who were around 10 or 11 years old (if not younger) and they would be out all day selling things, just to make ends meet.
I remember coming home and sobbing at that reality. I thought ‘It’s not fair, why is it not me? What did I do to deserve what I have?’
At that moment, I realized how fortunate I was, I never had to take on a responsibility that big. In reality, I got the lucky side of the coin.
I do not feel like I deserve what I have, as everything has been practically handed to me. I feel this thing where I feel I have to compensate for a fortune by helping others in misfortune.
Now, the one thing that keeps me going is making other people’s lives a little less difficult, trying to give back anyway I can.
Don’t do things for the wrong reasons.
Find fulfillment in yourself
Live In the Now
No one can be a better “you” than “you”
Be okay with how you feel
-- Ahmed Hassan