We all desire to be happy! If you think about most of the things you do you would find that in all you want to have a sense of fulfillment, joy and happiness. However many times we do things that lead to unhappiness and we wonder why we are so unhappy. I agree that in some cases, there are medical reasons why a person can feel depressed and unhappy, but in many cases simply making some changes in your life can lead to greater levels of fulfillment and happiness.
1. You have not discovered your purpose
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas Edison
Living life without a clear vision can get quite boring. You cannot feel very happy when you don’t feel that you are adding any value to the world around you and you are just living to survive till the weekend. There surely is more to life that just paying bills.
Vision is a visualization of what you believe your life was designed for. It is like seeing a prototype of your life. Having a glimpse of what your life will be like many years from now, regardless of what it looks like now. It takes boldness to pursue your dreams and to work at your vision but it’s worth the effort because that is what you are unconsciously looking for any way.
Yes it’s hard work to discover your strengths, discover your passion, discover or develop a way to turn it into the solution of a problem, discover and share the solution with those that need it (sometimes these people are not yet born) and then share it with them. The truth is this! As you do all these, you are already increasing your level or fulfillment and reducing your unhappiness. When you begin to earn a living from your passion and your vision begins to manifest before you, your joy overflows and you then learn to maintain balance so that your joy remains.
2. You are not making a difference
It is more blessed to give than to receive – Jesus
There is so much joy that one gets when you are part of the solution to someone’s problem. If you arrange your life such that you regularly help to put a smile on someone’s face, or help to secure someone’s future, you will find yourself feeling much happier and joyful. It is very important that we find what we are good at and are passionate about, then turn it around into a solution to some problems around us.
Take note that a close study of most jobs that we go to, is someone’s vision being realized. The problem is that you have not determined your own vision or purpose and as such do not know how what you are doing now is helping someone . On the other hand, your job may be obviously helping people but because it’s not really your passion, nor your best position due to other circumstances like your boss, distance from your home, the pay, you have lost sight of the difference you are making.
3.You do not have enough basic resources
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. (Pro 22:7 NKJ)
There are many studies that show that there is a basic amount of money that one needs to be comfortable above which your happiness level is not affected. However below this amount you will be unhappy. If you are in debt, your rent is not paid, you cannot fuel your car and you do not have enough to pay your children’s school fees you will really feel the pressure and as such it would affect your happiness. If however all the other things above are in place, you will know that the lack is temporary and it may not have the impact it would have on a person who may think there is no way out.
Although money is not everything, having more than enough of it when other things are in place can be very fulfilling. If you are helping 5 children whose parents can’t afford extra lessons for their children by teaching these children on weekends, I am assuming you would be able to do more with an extra $10,000 a month. I am not advocating that you run after money, but that you organise your affairs such that your basic needs are met and you have extra. There are very many practical steps that can be taken for anyone who is healthy enough to make some extra money.
4. Your health is failing
Good health is keep to enjoying your life. You may not be able to control exactly what type of health you are born with, but you sure can make effort to make the most of what you have. Little things like regular exercise, eating good food, sleeping properly all have ways of affecting our moods and our level of well being and happiness.
There are many people today who would exchange all the money they have for better health. If your health is good now, then be diligent to take care of your body so that you don’t lose it too quickly.
5. You do not have a lot of hope
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness – Desmond Tutu
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.- Martin Luther King, Jr.
A while back I was asked this question! If you knew for sure that you will be alive 10 years from now and you would be earning $1million every year from then on but for the next 10 years you will have very little income ($10,000/year), will you be happy or sad? Of course I will be happy, if I knew for sure that I will be healthy and alive for many years after the 10 years. These 10 years of earning so little is well worth the reward of earning so much in the future. One reason why many people are unhappy today is because they have no hope that anything will change. They may not be investing in their lives, they may not be improving in their skills, they may not be working hard to improve their health, they are doing nothing about their spiritual well being. So they have no hope for the future and no hope for life after death so they are unhappy.
6. You do not have enough good relationships
Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.- Mother Teresa
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro 18:24 NKJ)
After spending 14 years, I have moved with my family to Kuje in Nigeria for the about 7 months now and I can see so clearly that with good relationships one can survive a lot of challenges. I have seen and met people who barely have $1 a day live with so much gratitude and happiness that makes one wonder. What they have though is a strong support system of friends and family. If you do not have good friends, no spiritual community of people who love you, no spouse or children, life can become very lonely. Some people have lots of people around them but those people are not their friends. It takes a heart that loves to develop quality friendships. It also take some discipline, patience, honesty, sacrifice and resources to keep good relationships. If you are not willing to learn how to keep your relationships loneliness can set in and steal away your happiness. Some of the habits that rob you of your joy in relationships include, keeping grudges, envy or jealousy, pride, dishonesty and all these little things that seem not to matter at first but drive our sincere friends away.
7. You are not making visible progress
Make each day count by setting specific goals to succeed, then putting forth every effort to exceed your own expectations.-Les Brown
When you don’t know where you are going, even the progress you make does not look like progress. You will discover some level of joy when you have goals and you accomplish those goals. It is important to break your bigger goals into smaller much more manageable goals and celebrate the completion of each goal. Each time I review my life goals and tick off anyone that has been accomplished, I feel a deep sense of gratitude and fulfillment. Even just reading the goals that I have crossed previously continues to give that satisfaction and gratitude to God.
8. You don’t choose to be happy
Ultimately, you choose to be happy or miserable. The reality is that although you are free to choose, you can’t choose the consequences of your choices. They’re preloaded. It’s a package deal. – Sean Covey
When you feel that you can only be happy if … (insert your condition here). Then you will find yourself being unhappy in many ways until….(said condition is fulfilled). You can choose to be happy now. To be happy with what you believe your purpose in life is. To see a clearer vision for your life and rejoice in it. You can choose to be happy that you are alive and you can bring joy to someone else. When you choose to focus on what you have and choose to be grateful you find that your day is better and you are not so unhappy.
9. You want to control everything and everyone
As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit. – Emmanuel Teney
According to the serenity prayer, it is so important to be able to accept the things you cannot change. If you want to control how everything turns out you will be unhappy. If you want everyone to operate by your rule, you will soon find out that you are not God and you will be very unhappy. You are a very small part of the universe, the things that are beyond your control and infinitely more than the ones under your control. So accept the truth, focus on the things you can change in your life and accept things you can’t.
10. You don’t easily accept your mistakes
Don’t regret your mistakes. You’ll always make mistakes. The better you are, the less mistakes you make. The only way to get better is to thoroughly analyze your mistakes. – James Altucher
When you find it hard to laugh at yourself and acknowledge that you were wrong, you try to push the blame to others because you are afraid to fail or look bad, you will find yourself being unhappy. It is human to err. You are not perfect. If you make a mistake, be quick to accept it, learn from it and determine not to make the same mistake again and move on. Life is too short to be crying over spilt milk.
There are many other little behaviours and attitudes that easily robs people of their happiness. Many of these are simply off-shoots of the points listed above. For example if you don’t easily accept mistakes, you will blame others and you may not forgive them easily when they are actually wrong. These are two other little things that make people unhappy. In my next set of posts. I will like to consider steps to take to combat they joy stealers.