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Getting to a state of happiness and contentment can prove to be challenging. Remaining in that state for any length of time sometimes feels near impossible. While many people happily cite that they are content with themselves and their stations in life, a vast number of us are seemingly on a never ending journey to do better, be better and have more. The latter refers to more of everything and this is a slippery slope. By always focusing on obtaining and acquiring more, we are unable to truly appreciate what we already have; and let’s face it: keeping up with the Joneses is exhausting.
While some of the responsibility of wanting bigger and better resides within us, we aren’t solely to blame. In a time where the media outlets constantly and aggressively shower us with celebrities who have mega-million dollar mansions, model like partners and ridiculously toned physiques, unless you don’t own a television, ever turn on the radio or submit to not looking at any magazine cover, you are subjected to a daily dose of ‘perfection’ whether you like it or not.
Couple that with the social media and stigmas attached to it and epic fail will inevitably come to mind from time to time. We constantly subject ourselves to a barrage of friends, family and co-workers status updates which include engagements, job promotions and Caribbean getaways (complete with magical pictures)all of which may cause us to step back and examine our own lives. Then the questioning begins. Am I in a good place? Is my job good enough? Will I ever get that promotion? How does he or she stay so thin? When will I find the perfect partner?
Soon enough the panic can set in and the inferiority complex begins. This is damaging not only to one’s physical health but also influences our emotional states as it promotes depression and stress not to mention may elicit an unhealthy and unnatural need to engage in unhealthy behaviors and unrealistic expectations.
What we need to be focusing on and developing is the fine art of self-worth and reframe the entire idea of the pursuit of happiness. Set aside for a moment the idea of the “American dream” and let go of any and all preconceptions of what brings us happiness. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to improve in areas of one’s life, balance must occur. After all, in order to achieve more, you first have to be content with what you already have.
Stop the Comparisons
The first exercise anyone will need to practice to be happier with themselves and appreciate what they have is to stop negative behaviors and one of the worst is stacking yourself and your assets up to those around you. There will always be someone better looking. There will always be someone wealthier. This is a fact of life and trying to change this will only bring about exhaustion and frustration. This is especially true when we compare our lives to those of celebrities.
Believe it or not, celebrities do not wake up looking any more fabulous than you do. They have millions of dollars in their bank accounts to help them look that way. Surrounding themselves with a flurry of nutritionists, trainers, beauticians and stylists, it may appear that they step on to the red carpet in a flawless manner. The truth is, they spend an absorbent amount of money and time to attain that ‘flawless perfection.’ This is time and money the general population doesn’t have.
The time spent comparing what you look like or how much you have to others should be spent focusing on what you have and how you can possibly improve or build upon your individual foundation. If you aren’t happy with your weight, certainly work towards a healthy goal weight. Write your own script and goals that are not based on anyone else. Seek out help professional guidance and support from trusted friends and family.
If you can’t completely break the cycle of comparisons then it will behoove you to compare your life and riches in a different way. Peel your eyes away from celebrities and instead compare your life to those who live in other regions of the world and who are suffering. Realize that you live in a place where you have many rights that others don’t. You have access to some of the best medical care in the world whereas other nations struggle from simple and treatable diseases. Perhaps talk to a great grandparent and learn the struggles they endured which are probably much worse than anything you have had to deal with in your lifetime.
Perceptions need to be balanced and when playing the comparison game be sure you are doing so fairly which means taking into account the rich and famous, but also the less fortunate.
Abundance probably will make you happier but keep in mind that it also comes in many forms. Money and good looks are not ‘the have all and do all’ of happiness. To become happier in one’s life some creation is required and you are solely responsible for creating that abundance.
Whatever aspect you are currently unhappy with needs to be examined and changed. If for example your social circle is limited, make an effort to expand it. Inviting new people into your life will not only fill your social calendar, it will introduce you to diversity and that is always a good thing.
If you aren’t happy with your current job or the meager salary focus on ways to improve in that area. Perhaps you need to take a college course or two to gain new skills which will be more marketable. You can also join social networks geared towards employment such as LinkedIn which can open doors to new jobs and better pay. Networking is the best way to improve your job search and advance yourself.
Work on Yourself from the Inside Out
A solid foundation is key to happiness and instead of focusing on others, focus on yourself. Take whatever talents you have and emphasize them or use them in a different capacity than you are. Ideally, using your talents to benefit or help others is the best way to go as there is so much reward to be reaped from assisting others.
Are you a great dancer? Volunteer to teach the elderly a few steps or work in an impoverished community. Perhaps you have artistic skills? Volunteer those skills and a few hours of your time to others who wish to learn how to draw. While you are teaching others, you are also empowering yourself and this is important when beginning your journey in the pursuit of happiness.