BY SOFO ARCHON
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama
Each and every person is in one way or another seeking to find happiness in life. In their journey, however, many people get side-tracked and forget what truly brings joy and celebration into their lives and what robs them of happiness. They feel lost, trying to quench their psychological thirst for happiness with substitutes that do nothing but leave them even more thirsty.
My own life’s journey was arduous and filled with obstacles that prevented me from finding contentment, but as I was growing older and maturing, I came to realize those pursuits which, instead of filling my life with happiness, were actually stealing it from me, and so I made the decision to let go of them. The result? My life was turned upside down. I found myself living with more joy and laughter and experiencing more freedom and fulfillment.
Here I would like to share with you some of these pursuits that most people have to a lesser or greater degree, and which you need to give up so as to find your way to living happy and free:
1. Following the herd
As social beings, we humans want to feel connected and liked by others. Out of our deep desire to be part of a community, many times people choose to conform to a group, due to their insecurity that otherwise they might be left out and end up feeling lonely. In most cases, this means compromising their values and thinking and as well as suppressing themselves in numerous ways in order to fit in with the crowd, which inevitably results in immense psychological suffering.
2. Obeying to authority
To listen to others’ advice is all well and good, but to blindly believe and follow what they tell you is definitely not a wise thing to do. From a very young age, most people have been conditioned to believe in authority figures out of fear of punishment and the belief that they are not smart enough to think for themselves and make their own decisions, so they let others do the thinking for them and take responsibility for their lives. Instead of following their heart and creating their own path in life, the majority of people obey to orders and follow a predetermined path that was forced to them by others. This way they can’t develop their own critical thinking, become problem solvers and find what truly gives meaning and purpose in their lives. Not surprisingly, they end up feeling sad and living a miserable life.
3. Trying to fulfill others’ expectations
If you try to live the way others want you to live, you’ll never manage to live the way you want to live. And even if you try your best to live up to others’ expectations, you’ll for sure fail to achieve it, since nobody can satisfy everyone’s desires. So what is the point of sacrificing yourself for the sake of what others think of you? By doing so you will only succeed in wasting your life and filling your psyche with emotional pain.
4. Chasing financial wealth
It is true that we all need to earn money in order to survive because of the crazy economic system that we have created, but research has continually shown that once we have enough to fulfill our basic needs, money cannot provide us with much more to help us experience happiness and feel emotionally satisfied. Most people, having been conditioned by our greedy society to believe that having a big bank account and acquiring a lot of expensive material possessions will bring joy into their lives, end up feeling sad and disappointed, trapped in the never ending pursuit of material wealth.
5. Entertaining distraction
We’ve been brought up in a culture of distraction. We’re continuously busy, doing things that don’t contribute to our well-being and our environment is constantly asking for our attention. This constant distraction is filling us with confusion and mental agitation. In order to find more peace and stillness, let go of all the unnecessary distractions and focus your attention on what truly matters in life — that is, what fills your heart with joy and helps you become the greatest version of yourself.
6. Trying to be perfect
Another pursuit that is stealing your happiness is that of striving to create a perfect life for yourself. Perfection is impossible — everyone has flaws, makes mistakes, and that includes you. In the journey of life, we’re continuously growing and there’s always space for improvement. Constantly trying to control your life so that it appears to be perfect will inevitably make you experience immense stress as well as feelings of disappointment, shame and even self-hatred.
7. Seeking fame
Nowadays, with the popularization of the internet, more and more people have an opportunity to become famous. There are plenty of individuals who are trying each and every day to become famous, being jealous of their favorite celebrities and internet personas, desiring to look shiny like them and live the kind of life that they are living, believing that only by attracting others’ attention on them will they feel happy and well about themselves. In reality, the constant search for self-gratification through the acquirement of fame is nothing but a mere symptom of inferiority complex, and the happiness than depends on others is not true happiness — it is a superficial egotistical pleasure that can easily be taken away from them at any moment, if they are deprived of the attention they so much desire.
8. Comparing yourself to others
Everyone is unique and important in his or her own way, but most people have not yet learned to love and accept themselves just the way they are, mainly due to the social programming they had to undergo. In our competitive society, we’ve been made to believe that we should constantly try to make ourselves look better than others, and that only this way will we manage to feel that we are important. Not surprisingly, this mindset and the lifestyle that follows from it causes us immense psychological suffering by making us always feel that we are never good enough and that we need to try harder and harder to stupidly prove our superiority over others.
If you are seeking happiness, be sure not to search it in the wrong places, and, most importantly, let go of any self-imposed obstacles that prevent you from finding it.
Featured image credit: Patty Vicknair
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