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We Make Ourselves Unhappy Because we Have a Bullshit Idea of what Happiness is Supposed to be

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

They say, money doesn't buy happiness. Yet we live in a capitalistic society that has taught us otherwise for generations. Parents teach children that you need to have money to buy the things that you want. People trade time and freedom for wealth, and we idolize the wealthy.

The desire to live a rich lifestyle is something that holds an allure for many of us. But why? Does having the latest gadget or the most fashionable clothes really make you happier? Is staying in a posh resort going to make you feel better about yourself in the long run? Are all the hours you put in for the promotion at work really worth spending so much time away from your family?

“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”
―Chuck Palahniuk,Fight Club

As long as we buy into the idea that a capitalist system is the best way to 'get ahead' we are never going to be truly happy. We are going to keep chasing after more, not appreciating the things we already have. We are going to keep going into larger amounts of debt, creating higher amounts of stress, to maintain a lifestyle that isn't going to feed our souls.

What really makes you happy?

This is an exercise that I ask people to think about in my ebook, Happy. Healthy. Rich. The smart mom's guide to living your best life.

Take some time to think about the happiest moment you can remember. What were you doing? Who were you with? What was it that makes this memory stick out for you?

For me, the happiest I have been lately was last September when my daughter was visiting me in Germany. I took my two girls to the zoo, where they had the best time petting all the animals in the big enclosures that you could walk into. Seeing the smiles on their faces, and the way they enjoyed the animals together was the best. I love having my two girls together. It is a priceless memory that shines bright in my mind.

Was it expensive going to the zoo? Not really. Were we worried about impressing anyone else? No.

We were fully in the moment. Present where we were. Enjoying the beauty of nature, and the beauty of each other. To me, that is happiness. Allowing yourself to be immersed in the experience fully. Doing something with the people that I love. Sharing time together.

Happiness looks different for each of us.

Is it curling up with a good book? Spending time in nature? Being with children or pets? A hobby? Fitness? Music? Art? Dancing?

When you find your answer to what happiness is for you, then you separate yourself from society's bullshit expectations of you. You find your own path, and your own compass. Following your heart leads you to happiness, not trying to be better than everyone else.

Stop Comparing

When you compare your life to other people's lives, you judge yourself against the yardstick of someone else's achievements. We all have different skills, different goals, and different accomplishments.

The person who wins the gold medal in swimming probably won't win the medal in downhill skiing too. Yet, they both won the gold.

A scientist can cure disease. An artist creates a painting that lasts for generations. A weaver makes our clothes. A farmer grows our food.

All different, and all valuable.

The world needs all different kinds of people, doing all kinds of different things in order to be able to function. When you judge your life against someone else's you are forgetting your beauty and uniqueness. You are making yourself less in your own eyes, because you haven't accomplished the same thing as someone else.

There are lots of important jobs that aren't glamorous. Not everyone is meant to be in Hollywood. Most of the 'essential' jobs that we depend on day to day aren't glamorous. We need people to grow and sell food. We need truck drivers. We need people to build houses. Yet, do we see these professions getting glamour and fame? Nope.

When you compare yourself to famous people, or Instagram influencers, you are selling yourself short. Sure, you may not have perfect hair and perfect teeth. You might not be able to bake a seven layer cake that looks like a unicorn. But that doesn't make you bad. You are unique and special in your own way.

It is time that we learn to appreciate ourselves and others for our differences. We need people in this world who do all different things. If everyone was the same, then the world would have a well of unmet needs.

Throw away the social script

Life is so much more than an endless "to-do" list. We think that after high school we need to go to college, get a job, get married and move to the suburbs. Because that is what our parents did. And their parents.

But before that? What about 100 years ago? Or 200?

There were no suburbs. Because there were no cars. We build modern life around modern conveniences, and expect things to function in a certain way. But it has made us fractured, alone, and unable to connect to each other. We are so afraid of other people's opinions that we don't show our true selves.

100's of years ago, people lived in a more interconnected way. Jobs were handed down through families, or from master to apprentice. You did what your parents did, because that was the way it was always done. The industrial revolution ended that. It allowed us to create cities, transport, and mass-produce things. It freed up 'leisure' time that only the rich used to have.

Doing things because it's what your parents expect, or because it's what everyone else is doing, isn't going to make you happy. You aren't a carbon copy of everyone else, and you aren't meant to be. Stop trying to measure up to other people's expectations and other people's definition of success.

The more you realize your uniqueness and let it shine, the happier you are bound to be.

You don't have to graduate college in your 20's. You don't have to be married with a house and kids in your 30's. You don't have to retire in your 60's. You don't have to live a life that is like what you saw on sitcoms growing up. Your life belongs to YOU, so make the most of it!


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