a happy family are playing on the lawn

HAPPINESS: THE INNER GAME THAT NEVER ENDS!

The ultimate GOAL of humankind has always been and it will always be: THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

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But...

  • WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
  • HOW CAN WE BE HAPPY?

We grow up in a society, especially the western one, that feeds us with a strong belief:

"TO BE HAPPY YOU NEED MORE"! 

Following this urban myth, we focus on what we don't have, rather than on anything we already have.

“To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of shoes. To the man with old shoes, it's a pair of new shoes. To the man with new shoes, it's stylish shoes. And of course, the fellow with no feet would be happy to be barefoot. Measure your life by what you have not by what you don't”. - Michael Josephson

Adopting the idea that what YOU have is never enough represents our roadmap to UNHAPPINESS!

unhappy man at the top of a pile of material possessions

The message sold to us day in and day out is: 

"INSTANT GRATIFICATION IS THE ANTIDOTE TO OUR SUFFERING"!

But...

how long does the immediate pleasure last?

The good sensation resulting from instant gratification will soon vanish!

We find ourselves at the starting point again.

We fall into a vicious circle.

We look for the next material object that satisfies us.

We are trapped in a system that will never end! 

We try to avoid pain by getting immediate satisfaction, without being aware that this leads us to what we try to run away from!

We become more and more greedy.

greedy child is reclaiming her toy

We fail to appreciate simple things in life.

Is a sunny day spent in the company of your family, friends, or someone YOU love less pleasant than buying the newly advertised product? 

I don’t believe so!

The association between being happy when we get more possessions is something rooted in our culture.

We have developed a strong addiction to compulsive shopping!

This attitude is called MATERIALISM.

The wrong idea that the more YOU have, the more YOU can be happy brings about competition.

We tend to compare our possessions with what other people have.

We run a race in which the runner who has the most wins.

office men are running a race

There is no final destination to it.

We try to keep up with the Joneses.

Climbing the social ladder is what most people long for.

No matter how much YOU can afford to buy, there will always be somebody else that can afford more!

If YOU have two iPhones while someone else has three, YOU are one iPhone short of contentment.

The only feeling that YOU can experience by taking part in this foolish race is a sense of loss, of being miserable!

Research shows there is a relationship of inverse proportionality between the degree of well-being and the number of possessions.

As People become more materialistic, their well-being diminishes; as they become less materialistic, it goes up!

Another research illustrates how having a compulsive desire to get more fosters social isolation.

man in self-isolation in dark room

The more people endorse materialistic values, the more they experience unpleasant emotions like depression and anxiety.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for”. - Epicurus

WHICH ARE THE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO START LIVING A HAPPY LIFE?

1)BECOME AWARE OF YOUR FOCUS: 

magnifying glass highlighting word focus

shift focus, from EXPECTATION to APPRECIATION, from what YOU don’t have to what YOU already have.

Being GRATEFUL for your health, family, for being alive...

will provide YOU with a sense of overall well-being.

2)LEARN TO ACCEPT THINGS THAT ARE OUTSIDE OF YOUR CONTROL:

piece of puzzle representing word acceptance, and speace for it with written the word peace

shift focus, from the outside world (what YOU don’t have power on) to the inside one (what YOU have full control over),

“YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE IT DRINK”.

Trying to change what YOU don’t have power over (a person, a situation, etc..) causes frustration and anger.

What YOU MUST do is: 

  • adapt yourself to the person, event YOU are dealing with,
  • change the meaning YOU give to circumstances,
  • change your response to whatever YOU don’t have control on,

“God grant me the strength and serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. - Reinhold Niebuhr

YOU can use the quote above as a mantra; for me, it has been a breakthrough.

It always reminds me that I have power over myself not over the external world.

I believe that too often, as human beings, we forget about it.

A mantra used as a reminder is really useful.

3)BECOME AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS: MASTER YOUR MIND!

man is thinking

Remember thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to actions, which lead to outcomes!

Each thought YOU allow to dwell in your mind, will either empower YOU or disempower YOU.

It will either move YOU towards fulfillment, and happiness or away from them.

It will either be an asset or a debt.

It’s your responsibility to be in full control of what’s going on in your mind.

Take the time to analyze which kind of thoughts reside in your mind most of the time.

Are they positive and constructive or are they disempowering?

We tend to have the same kind of thoughts that stroll in our minds all day long.

That’s why it is of paramount importance to be the warden of our mind, and allow only empowering thoughts to reside in it.

“ Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. YOU can grow flowers or weeds”.

4)BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR WORDS: THE STORY YOU TELL YOURSELF

the writing: what's your story?

What YOU tell yourself makes the difference!

How often do YOU pay attention to the words YOU say when YOU speak to anyone? 

I guess YOU are careful to use specific words with the intention of not hurting your interlocutor.

Maybe YOU choose words that can even praise who YOU are speaking to.

Do YOU pay the same attention to what YOU say to yourself too?

Do YOU mostly hurt or praise yourself?

Do YOU say to yourself:

  • I am good or I am not good enough?
  • I can or I cannot?
  • I want to or I don’t want to?

Words, like thoughts, exert tremendous power and are responsible for our feelings, actions, and achievements in life.

5)KEEP GROWING 

3 steps with words good, better, best and arrow is showing the way

As humankind, we are in continuous evolution.

We are wired for progress, for development.

Anytime YOU push yourself to become a better version of yourself YOU achieve personal gratification.

YOU feel energetic and enthusiastic because YOU have made another step forward.

6)HAVE A GOAL

the writing GOAL with an arrow hitting the center of letter o

Having a GOAL to fight for allows YOU to have a direction in your life, a purpose.

YOU are not “sleep-walking” through life, YOU are perfectly aware of your destination.

YOU know exactly what YOU want.

Clarity allows YOU to avoid squandering energy and time on irrelevant things that take YOU far away from living a meaningful life.

7)LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

time line with a man positioned in the middle of it where there is written the world present

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present”. - Bill Keane

Where do YOU live most of your day?

Do YOU live in your memories?

Are YOU worried about what your life will be like?

YOU only own the present moment!

What YOU are is the result of what YOU have done so far, so what YOU will be is the manifestation of what YOU are and do today.

YOU’d better invest in the present to build the greatest future YOU can expect.

Any decision and action YOU take today will determine what your future will look like! 

“The future depends on what YOU do today”. - Mahatma Gandhi

8)TAKE A BREATH: SLOW DOWN

woman is juggling between different activities

Shift from MULTITASKING to MONOTASKING!

How often do you find yourself engaged in different activities at the same time?

Just think for a moment about your day.

Let’s start with the simple stuff.

What do YOU do when it’s time to have your meal?

Do YOU enjoy your food?

Or like so many people, do YOU intersperse one bite with a phone chat?

If YOU are anything like me, right now while YOU are reading this post, YOU are also checking your inbox or a reply on your whats app group.

We may believe that splitting our focus between multiple tasks, allows us to save time and be more efficient.

But the reality is that we get the opposite result.

We perform less, we don’t enjoy what we are doing, the results we get don’t live up to our expectations.

This leads to stress and frustration.

As research shows our brain is not designed to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Stick to one task at a time, YOU will enjoy it and YOU will get a good job!

9)GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN

joined hands containing word give

In our society, it is easy and common to expect something in return when we do a favor to somebody else.

As discussed above, we live in a world where competition is impelling. 

How can I be better than YOU if I help YOU, above all without expecting any benefit from YOU?

I will be one step behind YOU.

This is not tolerated by the world we live in.

It’s not surprising that we have one eye on giving and the other one on calculating the return.

We tend to give only when we are almost sure to receive a benefit. 

As long as YOU give with strings attached YOU will never experience joy and peace.

Giving should be a kind gesture, should come from your heart.

YOU should feel proud of contributing to someone else’s life by giving something.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your time, your skills, your money…

What matters is that YOU give to help, support, improve other people’s lives.

YOU will feel connected to the person YOU are giving to on a deeper level.

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return”. - Nelson Mandela

Now that YOU have got to the end of this article it’s time to answer the question I asked at the very beginning of this post.

For Christian...

"Happiness is a choice!

The choice of being aware of what’s going on in your inner world.

It’s the harmony within YOU.

It is a mental attitude.

It’s the pleasant feeling that comes from personal development and kindness to others and not from the immediate satisfaction arising from a new purchase.

There’s no easy way out, a short cut to being happy, happiness is something YOU MUST keep working on day in and day out.

Happiness is a journey that doesn’t have a destination and that never ends". - Christian

Christian Caliendo
Christian Caliendo

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