Being happy in modern times: think you can't afford?
In a consumerist era and culture of sharing, has an envy toward those who have more in your social circle got you chasing after all that shine and glitter, and robbed you of your happiness? Do you find the rise of the new rich in emerging economies jarring, especially if you are so close to it but left out from it? If you are not working in sectors where the hype is, do you feel a tad unloved in social settings?
If "money equates success and happiness" is conventional wisdom, what else is there? Do you need to be rich or to experience success first before you can be happy? We live in comfortable times where we expect things to be easy and fast - are there still reasons to struggle and is it possible to be happy despite of them?
We may not be suffering from all the symptoms of "future shock", a perception of "too much change in too short period of time" as predicted by futurist, Alvin Toffler in 1970 but undeniably, growth has accelerated and so have stress and anxiety levels. How may we find sustainable happiness in a rapidly changing world?
Is entitlement the reason Millennials and Gen Z are not content with what their grandparents and parents were happy for? While some are chasing after more money and fancy titles, and some feel threatened or stressed out, there are those who have found empowerment in the new developments and have taken it upon themselves to make a dent and create the future they envisage --- inventing the next disruptive thing; championing social and environmental causes; promoting indie culture etc. What is cause for happiness for Generation Self-actualise?
Your Existential Question Answered
A humanitarian and practical approach.
Regardless of the generation we belong to and goals we may pursue, it is through strengthening these 3 dimensions of our Self that we may build into our core, the state of happy.
Your overall sense of self-worth or personal value
People with strong self-esteem feel less vulnerable to the negative opinions of others. External points of reference such as job titles and paychecks are not the real source of anyone's self-esteem for if it is, once they are taken away, so does a person's self-esteem. Its real source comes from acting in alignment with one's true and best self.
Your faith in your ability to do
It is based on your knowledge of your abilities and strengths, which affects your attitude toward new endeavours and challenges. People with high self-confidence believe in themselves, feel in control and are more optimistic. You can build self-confidence by challenging yourself more.
Your idea about who you are &
what you stand for
Most people accept their identities according to what they've been taught or assimilated growing up, without diving deeper into their thoughts, emotions and desires. Having a healthy self-concept involves knowing your personal attributes, and being able to accept both the good and the bad. It calls for some degree of self-exploration.
Success & happiness take the same work
Invest in knowing self
People are motivated by a desire to live in accordance with their values and beliefs, and express their personality and talents. These areas govern one's core - they make you, you. Discontent or tension builds up when you keep you suppressed or compromised over long periods of time, which would then undermine your self-esteem and self-concept.
Don't let conventional wisdom or popular opinions tell you who you should be and what you should want. Grant yourself room for exploration, learn from failures; ask deep questions that will reveal your deepest emotions and desires. No one will be happy with what they want, unless what they want is what they should have. Many worked hard for things that will not give them long-lasting happiness.
Contemporary society celebrates individuality and diversity and has the capacity for it - we can be united by our differences! It is narrow-minded to think that there are only a few ways in which one can succeed, and to confine success into a narrow highway.
So, go ahead, show the World your unique appeal and skill set, and contribute to the society in your own best way. Only when we respect who we are, protect our core and honour ourselves will we love the person that we are, and would be proud and happy to be us and with what we achieve.
Exercise higher consciousness
Exercising higher consciousness is about living with intention and purpose, and doing what's right, not what's easy. The faster pace of the outside World calls for higher consciousness of our inner World lest we be dragged along in a semi-conscious state, only to keep losing our footing and stumbling over.
Most people are at best, living semi-consciously - having days running them instead of them running their days, and allowing things to happen to them instead of making things happen for them.
To exercise higher consciousness is to have clarity on self and the World; be aware of things going on; feels in control, and steadily strides forward in tandem with the rest of the World without losing sense of self and sight of personal goals.
Monitor and develop your own pace for healthy personal growth to occur. Check in to your mental and psychological state amid the demands of daily life and pay attention to deviations from your usual temperament and personality; pause or slow down when necessary.
Simultaneously, build strong mind and body - know that when you frequently succumb to instant gratifications, let yourself go or take the easy way out, the mind and body deteriorate. Discipline yourself to do the hard work to be fitter and better so you become stronger and more resilient.The mind and body are engaged in a feedback loop - when one is strengthened, so does the other. Together, they provide the confidence and vitality to meet everyday demands and challenges. This also proposes that struggles are actually beneficial but they must be consciously managed.
Work for mastery
Work for mastery, not for retirement. Success will come as a result of mastery. Know what you're good or can be good at and work towards bettering yourself personally and professionally to achieve mastery in self and your chosen vocation. Having this goal and purpose in mind keeps you motivated and anticipating the future. Independent of outcome, the process in achieving mastery brings joy through immersion, satisfaction from progress, and pride for not giving up in the face of difficulties.
Whatever profession you may be in, make time for wonder and curiosity. With a huge open resource both on- and offline, there is little to stop one from learning outside of formal education. Stay curious and keep learning.
As you hold yourself to higher standards and refuse to succumb to mediocrity, you are also raising your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-concept. Nothing gives us more pride and makes us happier than becoming a master of our chosen vocation, through which we contribute to the society. We derive meanings from our lives through giving our best to a cause greater than ourselves.
I don't collect emails; check back once a month for new blogpost.
Gen Xer. ENFP. Practised happiness for more than 20 years.
No kidding when I say I've practised happiness for more than 20 years. It is as if I knew I was going to do this at a very young age, I've made happy my daily goal since. But my version of happiness then was so superficial and non-enduring that many years on, it landed me on the exact place that I didn't want to be - a dark and unhappy place.
The rebel in me resolved to be happy again and so started a 3-year "rehabilitation" program as I like to call it, to reclaim my happiness.
Today, stronger, wiser, better and happier, I have mastered my practice and got sustainable happiness figured out!
Armed with first-person experience and inspiration from my self-study of psychology, life coaching and personal development, philosophy and mindfulness practices, came about 350daysofhappy.
I respect people's individuality and unique life circumstances; my purpose for sharing what I know is to make it open to whomever might find it helpful. I welcome broad-minded people who would like to connect, praises and polite feedback and criticisms on my works if any.
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