In a world obsessed with instant gratification, true happiness is fleeting. Though we all have different ideas of what it means to be happy, we tend to view it as being content in our lives and with ourselves. In the pursuit of happiness, however, we’ve been mislead to believe that it requires a number of “things” and that they must come immediately. We think that having the latest material item or even a particular person will be the one thing that finally tips the scales in our favor—that having possessions or status or fame will be the final piece to the puzzle. While those things can all contribute to happiness, they aren’t actually the things that will make you truly happy, so getting them isn’t all that satisfying—what’s the point of getting it all for nothing?
True happiness doesn’t come by receiving, but by earning. Put the time in to create success, personal growth, and lasting relationships and you may find true happiness amongst it all.
1. Being Disciplined
This might be a new concept to some, but it’s something that has certainly stood the test of time. We can all agree that you can’t have true happiness without freedom—the choice to do anything we want is ultimately what drives us in our daily lives and fuels our passion. If you were told that you couldn’t be who you wanted to be or do what you dreamed of doing, you’d probably be pretty unhappy.
So how does discipline fit into the equation? Isn’t discipline the opposite of freedom—something that creates boundaries? It’s easy for our minds to drift to negative connotations when we hear the word “discipline”, but it’s actually a good thing. Discipline, in essence, is what gets us up in the morning, what helps us make healthy lifestyle choices and keeps things on the rails, so to speak.
Discipline helps us make the healthy lifestyle choices that keep us happy. – Tweet This
Consider this: almost all of us wish we were in great shape. In fact, there’s a billion-dollar industry built around this desire. Especially in the summer, the perfect “beach body” is the dream of so many, and for good reason. We think if we have a fit body we’ll feel healthy and strong, attract the opposite sex and most importantly, be happy. There’s no shame in wanting to reach our potential and thankfully the steps to get there are already laid out—millions of people have already reached this goal. So if we know it’s attainable, why haven’t we all reached it? The answer is discipline.
Unfortunately, many of us are willing to trade in discipline for instant gratification and in doing so, miss out on the results of hard work. Instead of going to the gym, for example, something that is hard and tiring but proven to work, it’s much easier to stay at home and sit in front of the TV or computer. Sure, it can feel temporarily satisfying, but when all is said and done you’ll wish you had just exercised in the first place, because by not doing so, nothing has changed—you got to stay in and zone out, but at what cost? You’re not actually doing or achieving what you truly want.
This concept isn’t limited to getting in shape, though. Think of all the things you’d like to do. Maybe it’s learning to play an instrument, speak a new language or start a new business. We all have the freedom to do these things, but we can’t without discipline. When we tap into this potential, however, anything is possible. When we work hard and finally achieve it, our success has the ability to validate our dreams and that’s an incredibly happy feeling.
2. Cultivating Real Relationships
“Surround yourself with the right people” is said often and it can’t be overstated. There is much more to it, however, and it’s the part that is arguably the most important.
True happiness isn’t in the numbers—the more you have of something does not equal more happiness. In this case, surrounding yourself with a thousand good people doesn’t do you any good unless you learn to cultivate real relationships. Good relationships with the people you love are worth more than thousands of casual acquaintances or fair-weather friends—real relationships are what makes it all worthwhile.
Having people in your life who are supportive, honest and trustworthy, no matter what, can make all the difference in a world that will gladly turn it’s back on you in an instant. Instead of trying to win over people that you know deep down aren’t good for you, often at the expense of your own dignity and morals, focusing your time and energy into the people that care for you will have an everlasting effect.
Creating lasting relationships is something that can change your life in more ways than one. Surrounding yourself with people who love you unconditionally allows you to be happy as you are—there is no need to change yourself to meet unreal expectations.
Having close relationships with the right people can help you grow, too. When people have faith in our abilities, we tend to rise to the occasion. Especially with people whose traits we admire, learning first-hand how to be the same is much easier—compassionate, selfless, grateful, thankful—the list goes on. There is no end to how much we can learn from others and how much happiness we can feel as a result, but it can only be achieved through honest connections and real relationships. When you understand the value of these relationships, you’ll be happy knowing how rich you really are.
3. Being Kind to Others
It goes without saying that being kind to others is important to do—treating other people the way we wish to be treated certainly helps to make the world a happier place, but we do it purely because it’s the right thing to do. That’s not to say you won’t get something out of it. In fact, we actually get a lot out of doing nice things for other people, but not in the ways you might imagine.
Being praised or rewarded for a good deed is nice, but the most valuable things you’ll get out of an act of kindness are empathy and understanding. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is not a perspective that comes easily—the further we’re removed from a situation, the harder is it to relate. But by being kind to others, even if they’re not kind in return, we can begin to understand why we do the things we do. Maybe by being nice we can make someone’s day better; maybe a friend doesn’t know how to ask for help and by offering it, we can ease their burden.
Though these are selfless acts, they can actually make you feel pretty good. Being kind provides a sense of purpose and if you had the ability to put a smile on someone’s face, you’d likely be pretty happy knowing you can make someone else feel the same. It’s an endless loop that lends itself to creating positive change. That isn’t to say you should only be kind if you get something out of it. In fact, sometimes you may even have to go out of your way, but it’s still important to do.
By being kind and helping others, we can begin to understand the struggles they face are the same ones we do and that sometimes, we can’t do it alone. Being kind helps us to stay humble and realize how thankful we are for the people that make our lives good.
There Are More Things You Can Do For Happiness
There are millions of small things you can do each day to improve your life and find true happiness. By building off these pillars, creating an authentic, happy life is not only something you can do, but something you can do fairly simply.
Taking into consideration what we really want from life can help lead us down a path we may not have considered in the past. Healthy relationships, a successful, purposeful career, rewarding hobbies, giving back—all these things can be achieved once you follow the fundamental steps and get back to basics. Though it may be tough to get there, it’s definitely worthwhile and happiness is the by-product of the effort.
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