Between the medical implications of contracting COVID-19, the financial unrest associated with this pandemic, and the political turmoil in various countries around the world, people are being overrun with stress. We often find ourselves tense, irritable, and full of angst. How are we supposed to cope with all of this chaos?
I heard an interesting quote the other day...Happiness is a by-product. As I pondered that statement, I realized that we can't really make ourselves happy. I mean, think about it. When was the last time you heard someone say, I'm going to be happy now? There is just not a decision we can make that will turn on happiness.
So how do we make ourselves happy? Happiness comes from contentment. It comes from being satisfied with our current situation. It comes from truly enjoying the people we are with, the places we find ourselves, and the activities in which we partake.
I have found two things that directly contribute to our contentment. The first of these is expectations. Too often, we are unhappy because we feel like we have not attained some achievement or someone has not acted in a manner in which we would have liked them to. People say things like, "I'll be happy when (someone) does (something)" or "I can finally be content when I (reach a certain goal or receive a specific thing)". Our problem stems not from lack of accomplishments, but from unmet expectations. We tie our happiness to people and things. I can tell you from experience. People will let you down. Things get old. Even if we do receive some amount of satisfaction, it is fleeting and generally leads to disappointment.
The other thing that contributes to happiness is focus. Where do you put your focus? Are you always looking out for number one? Do you find yourself competing for attention or position? Is what you want always your top priority? If so, your priorities are misplaced. The term most generally used for this situation is selfishness. Always trying to get ahead or being a pleasure seeker are more ways that end up in dissatisfaction.
If you truly want to be happy, you need to start being grateful for what you have and who you are. Things could always be worse. Think about the alternatives to what you have. Instead of being jealous of a co-worker that pulls into your place of employment in a brand new car, be thankful that you have transportation and are not stuck with a huge car payment every month.
And finally, find ways to serve others. Volunteer for a service organization or charity. Coach your child's sports team. Mow your neighbor's yard when they aren't home (if you really want to have fun, don't tell them who did it). Put some cash in an envelope and slide it under the door of someone who experiencing a financial hardship. Do something...anything for someone else. If you spend your time doing things for other people, you won't worry about what you have or don't have.
This is how you find happiness.