*Part of “The Mindset of a Millennial” series for 2020* 3/12.
So, what does it mean to be happy?
If you were to ask 100 people what does it REALLY mean to be happy, then you are more than likely to get a unique answer every single time. Although happiness is individual, based on your experiences and expectations, it seems we all have one thing in common; – and by we I mean Millenials – Yes I am talking directly to you. We’re always moving the goalpost for happiness. It’s the disease of more and it’s ruining us and our perception on the world.
I used to believe that happiness needed to be dependent upon something. It needed a positive trigger. …..I’ll be happy when…..I get to university…. *starts university*. I’ll be happy when…. I complete my degree…. *completes degree*. I’ll be happy when I’ve got a job *balances multiple jobs*. I’ll be happy when I have a routine and full time job *has full time job* I’ll be happy when I can escape and travel *books an Emirates ticket to Thailand*….. and so on and so on, you get the picture. Achieve goal, get happy, job done right?….. hmm.
Reflecting now, these stages of my life are times I thought I was going to achieve happiness, I in fact only achieved a goal. I’ve learnt that ambition and being goal driven are both strong personality traits of mine; that feeling of accomplishment is great, but it’s temporary. And naturally, as soon as I’ve achieved one thing, my brain doesn’t say wow well done you, lets chill for a bit and enjoy this for while. Nope, it’s on to the next thing. We can programme ourselves to become constantly dissatisfied. This obsession with self improvement could become our Harmatia (luckily I did pay some attention in GCSE’s but for anyone that didn’t – it’s our fatal flaw) . Which is yet a further element contributing to us being ‘The Burnout Generation.’ and our Millennial Mindset, and further affirmation that we are not good enough, and therefore require constant self improvement. But, we need to learn that more is not always better.
Can we always be happy?
I’ve discovered this concept of wanting more is a well studied area of neuroscience that scientists call our Hedonic Adaption….. that despite the ups and downs in our lives we have an ingrained ability to recalibrate ourselves and create balance of happiness. So although it is great to know we can recover from the most challenging periods within our lives, it also means that no matter how much we achieve, theoretically we will always realign and want more.
Achieving goals provides a short term sense of achievement yes, but this is not long term happiness. We do not achieve huge goals everyday. Some things take months, even years to achieve.
‘The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.’
We need to learn to appreciate and enjoy the process, in order to prevent us becoming reliant on external sources of happiness. As much as I say that everything life is temporary, I do believe you can be eternally happy (just not from external sources). We all naturally have dips, but if we can create an understanding of what makes us truly happy then we will lead much more fulfilling lives. I personally believe as mentioned in my recent posts; The Burnout Generation and Stop Looking, Start Seeing that happiness is linked to gratitude. Focussing and appreciating the things that we already have and enjoying the processes of our goals, we can perhaps prevent our minds wandering into the things we may feel that we are missing.
So how can we practice happiness…
Well let’s start with where do I feel most content? My perfect day of ‘happiness’ would be starting at the gym clearing my mind for the day, followed by good coffee and brunch, a walk outside (preferably by the beach or by some water – I am a pisces after all lol), a little bit of chill time, more food and golden hour outside before catching a killer sunset. – (Future Husband take note – no excuses!)
Now of course I appreciate that I cannot repeat these 24 hours a day for the rest of my life….. I do need to go to work and earn a wage to fund my caffeine reliance (FYI my veins are 67% caffeine most of the time). So instead, we need to incorporate little bits of our favourite things into our daily/ weekly/ monthly routines. I start my weekdays at the gym before heading to work, I often spend my weekends in coffee shops catching up with friends, and when summer finally rolls around I’ll be spending my free evenings getting some fresh air taking a walk at golden hour. Now I know this is not exactly vacation in Dubai or Palawan but it helps me to feel free on a daily basis. As much as I would love to escape to South East Asia or The Golden Coast, it’s not currently on the agenda so we need to FOCUS ON THE NOW.
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It all comes back to the same idea. MINDSET. Our minds are so powerful and learning to harness your thoughts and feelings helps to project us on our desired path. Learn what makes you tick and do more of it. Unless you have a solution for me to have two, sixth month vacations a year whilst still feeling like I have a purpose with my time then of course I’m ready to hear your pitch; my diary is cleared and ready to go!
In the meantime stop moving your goal posts.
Find a way to be happy right now, in THIS exact moment.
And find ways to repeat this in mini steps in your daily life.
Let’s keep our 2020 vision going.
Love J xoxo