Happiness is a State of Mind
Fernanda Lind, February 02, 2023
Are you happy?
Most of us claim that “happiness is the goal.” However, we don’t give much thought to what that actually means—we just keep striving for it. Many assume that happiness is about having everything we want when we want it—the right career, the right salary, a thriving personal life, and a cute handbag doesn’t hurt either. So why do so many high-achieving women seemingly “have it all”—but still don’t feel happy?
What if I told you that all of our plans and expectations are what make us unhappy?
It may be disheartening to hear that everything we have been doing so far isn’t getting us what we want—but deep down, you probably already know that to be true. When I talk to people about happiness and well-being, they often ask me if there are specific things that make people happier than others. The answer is yes—and luckily, you already possess it; you just need to learn how to access it.
WHY HAPPINESS MATTERS
Happiness is not a byproduct of success. Happiness is connected to the satisfaction you feel in your life. And satisfaction begins and ends with having the proper mindset.
It’s easy to assume that if you have enough money, love, and success in your life, then happiness will follow. The truth is that happiness comes from within: it’s a choice you make every day, based on how you think about yourself and the world around you. And the more you shift your thinking, the more your brain will automatically choose that feeling as its baseline response.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND MEANING
Happiness is a state of being; it is something you feel. It’s essentially an emotion—a temporary one at that. While happiness can be achieved through positive actions like laughing and smiling, it will eventually pass when those feelings wear off.
To sustain happiness for extended periods, you need to use meaning as fuel.
Meaning, on the other hand, is the purpose or reason behind what you do in life. It’s about understanding why you value things and how they fit into your greater purpose. As an article in The Science Times states, “Meaning is not a fleeting state, unlike happiness. It is the broader sense of purpose and feeling of contributing to something greater than oneself.”
HOW TO START LIVING WITH INTENTION
If meaning helps give life its significance and order, intention helps provide us with direction when navigating the high-stress situations we face on a daily basis.
Intention is the driving force behind our actions. When you have a clear understanding of your intentions, you can make better decisions that align with your values and priorities—which in turn helps validate meaning in your life and causes you to feel happier.
So how do you put it into practice?
Living with intention is about being proactive rather than reactive. It’s about breaking old patterns that no longer serve you, going after your dreams, achieving them, and feeling good about the process. According to the Atlantic, research has shown “that job satisfaction depends on a sense of accomplishment, recognition for a job well done, and work-life balance.” And that, my friend, has to come from you.
To find true satisfaction and happiness in your life—you must have a strong sense of self and compassion for yourself.
Let me repeat that.
You can check all the boxes for what looks like a happy life, but without doing the deep inner work to care for your mental well-being, you aren’t going to fool anyone—especially yourself. If happiness results from meaning and living with intention, the first thing you should set in motion is how you treat yourself. That means letting go of your ego and accepting yourself for who you are (or how you feel) in this moment.
TWO THINGS TO START PRACTICING RIGHT NOW
Self-awareness is the ability to understand and accept our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they are. It’s about observing yourself objectively, without judgment. It is critical for personal growth and development because it allows you to understand the why behind your decisions and communicate more effectively.
On the other hand, self-compassion can lead to greater psychological well-being, better relationships, and a more resilient response to stress. When you are kinder to yourself and forgive yourself for having normal human emotions (you know, actually allow yourself to feel the feels), you’re less likely to get caught up in negative self-talk and self-criticism.
The decision to be happy is always available to you if you choose to embrace it.
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