Happiness is subjective, arising from circumstances and one’s individual response to them. However, there is a general level of happiness from the adoption of some basic life ingredients that make us feel fulfilled. These ingredients are the pursuit of health, money, relationships, accomplishments, and self-acceptance. The immediate impact of adding these ingredients to our life recipes is the satisfaction derived from the sensation of a well-rounded, lived experience.
While there are bound to be some serious lows in life and stressors in general that will compromise our ability to feel happy, the above-stated factors can dampen the effect of negative occurrences. Let us look at each of the five ingredients a little closer.
Quite often neglected or relegated to a lower-level daily goal, health should be of primary importance. Of course, being healthy is a conscious effort aimed at choosing the right balance of foods plus physical and mental activities, but many among us have the tendency to slack off. The only way to break free from this vicious cycle is to force ourselves out of it. Let that voice in your head scold you for having that extra donut and let it scream out the motivation to exercise!
Many of us also tend to justify a lack of healthy choices with a lack of time. In truth, time is a resource that all of us have in limited quantity, and we all need to learn how to manage it effectively. Fighting off the urge to blame it on not having enough time is the best thing to do. Keeping our health goals at the forefront is primary.
Health begins with what you put in your body. A well-balanced diet in proper caloric amounts, full of all the main macros for your bodily needs, is a must. Also, keeping a check on added sugar, processed and starchy carbs, and unhealthy trans and saturated fats is crucial. Letting yourself have a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream once a week is normal, as long as it does not become a daily ritual. As for physical activity requirements, the purpose is to move your body and break out of sedentariness. Anything from a simple walk around the block to a jog, a bike ride, or a swim can accomplish these targets.
Money is the obsession of our society. How can happiness really come from owning something that will only allow you to buy and consume more? Consumption of goods only produces momentary feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. The goal of money should be to feed, clothe and shelter. Indeed, today people want the best foods, cars, houses, clothes, and travel experiences, given the highly materialistic nature of society. Retail therapy is often touted as a way to come out of a bad mood or depression when, in fact, nothing can be further from the truth: materialistic aspirations to own more do more harm than good by plunging individuals in a vicious loop of spending and accumulating. It not only impacts their mental health but also puts the environment and planet at risk.
Having little to no money isn’t recommended, either. After all, money can serve as a backup system lest any physical or mental calamity befall an individual. The point is to tread the middle road and have a practical attitude toward money, seeing it as a way to fulfill a decent level of needs and stay away from accumulating money for the sake of feeling rich, which can never be appeased.
While a lot is said about financial capital when it comes to success in life, a lot less is said about relationships as the social or cultural capital for us to excel in life. Right from the start, as children, we are surrounded by people who make us who we are. As we grow older, people like our parents, siblings, grandparents, and our childhood friends leave major imprints on us. Using this sense of self, we go out into the world to belong in other groups and associate with more people. Throughout our lives, we define ourselves through others, so having connections with others, be it loved ones, friends, or acquaintances, is essential. Another necessity is having someone to love and be loved by.
Relationships work well when you have an open mind that allows others to be themselves. They also work well when you are ready to listen and help. Having the agenda of self-interest is seldom the way.
Sense of Accomplishment
Happiness also comes from having some end goals that one strives toward. Many of us undertake the best education and attend world-ranked universities in hopes of investing in ourselves, career-wise. We also take classes to learn new skills that make us more resourceful and talented. The motive behind all this work is to find accomplishments and achievements that boost our self-worth. Having this sense of accomplishment enables us to feel that we are made for something bigger.
Not all of us can become doctors, lawyers, IT professionals, or successful executives, nor do we need to be in order to feel accomplished. Yes, becoming a highly regarded member of society can be a dream for many of us, but it only signifies grander levels of responsibility and commitment that cannot be expected from a lot of us—happiness won’t be guaranteed in such high levels of responsibility anyways. Hence, finding achievements or accomplishments is simply engaging in pursuits that we are passionate about. It can be anything, like cooking, painting, investing, sewing, hiking, and climbing.
Knowing oneself has been a favourite pastime for philosophers and thinkers. While we do not always possess this liberty in our fast-paced lives to ponder over the intricacies of life and our place in it or the workings of our inner being, we certainly do mull over who we really are at times. There are certainly different levels at which we recognize ourselves, and for different people, the ability to tap into these levels of self-consciousness varies greatly. Most of us recognize a sense of constructed self that we put out into the world, contradicting with what we truly wish to be on the inside. Happiness comes from having the least level of contradiction in our outwardly portrayed and inwardly assumed selves. So, the task for many of us is to let our inward selves shine on the outside, displaying the confidence in doing so and learning to accept ourselves.
Arslan Ahmed | Contributing Writer