“How to be happy” is googled 55,600,000 times a month in the United States. Happiness is something every business pretends to sell. Pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, clothing lines, and just about every product you can purchase claim to offer happiness for a price. But what if you don’t have the money? No problem. You can buy it with credit. But the truth is, if we were happy we wouldn’t be spending so much money on crap we don’t need.
Happiness VS. Pleasure
Understanding the difference between pleasure and happiness is paramount. And from what I see, hardly anyone in our society knows the difference.
Coke started a marketing campaign, “Open Happiness,” implying that happiness is inside their bottles and within their soda, dancing among the fizzy sweet goodness, waiting to start a party in your mouth. The first time I saw that commercial, I knew a new trend was starting. While Coke wasn’t the first, it seems that every large business marketing their brand is now promising some degree of a happy, more joyful life.
At most, these products that are pushed on us in every way possible, 24 hours a day, offer pleasure and nothing more. They certainly don’t offer happiness.
Pleasure is short term. It comes in spades with happiness, but it comes at a price with consumption. And often that price exceeds the number on the price tag.
Polls show that in countries where people have less–less cellular coverage, less television, less shopping, fewer automobiles–they are often much happier than we are in our modern societies with all our toys. It seems the more we attempt to satisfy our every eager impulse, the emptier we feel.
Convention says you need to spend money to be happy. Convention says you need pharmaceuticals (or you will at some point) and a large home to be happy. Convention says you need to work your ass off for many years to achieve this. And convention says a lot of other stuff that doesn’t do us any good.
Convention produces marketing that is shoved down our throats to spur us on to stimulate an economy that will collapse if it doesn’t keep growing at an incredible rate. It’s all about selling us stuff: more vaccines, more cars, the newest phones, and bigger, higher resolution televisions. But the price we pay is a drive to work harder and harder and harder to keep up with the Joneses. All the while, we are bombarded with so much technology offering us convenience while it sucks up every spare moment we might have had. Most of us want this. Most of us need this, because when we stop and just sit still with our thoughts, we don’t like the massive void we feel. We think all that crap fills that void, when, in fact, it creates more and more of a void within us.
Let go of what you’re supposed to do, and do what’s best for you. Unplug for awhile. Unplug more often. Get away from the noise. Figure out what makes you happy, and start taking some time to do it. Make the time.
Fuck What Other People Think
My life really started to change for the better when I began letting go of what other people think of me. I do things for me. I don’t do things for someone else unless it’s out of love and/or the desire to help someone. It’s no longer because I want to impress someone. I used to live for other people, working the job that I was supposed to work, driving a car that I thought other people liked to see me in, wearing the clothes that people told me I looked good in, and constantly worrying about what other people thought. It takes a lot of energy out of you.
I realize that many people aren’t going to like my use of language in the previous two titles, but I felt for the sake of authenticity, well, fuck it.
I see a lot of my friends trying to please their parents at the expense of their own happiness, for their whole lives. I see these people choosing careers and their whole life’s path based on a need for their parents’ approval. And these are people with parents who will never, no matter what their adult children do, tell their son or daughter that they are proud of them. Nothing their kids do will ever be enough. But if it were, it wouldn’t have been worth it.
I tell people to go do something embarrassing, to go into a store where no one knows them and pretend to trip and fall. Or yodel. Go for a walk with their headphones on and dance across every crosswalk. I tell them to practice not worrying what anyone thinks. It’s liberating and it feels better and better every time you do it.
If you haven’t heard, exercise releases endorphins. Exercise has many benefits on our emotional state. It’s actually very difficult to be miserable about anything in life when you’re exercising, (except maybe the exercise itself.)
Exercise has a knack for putting us in the moment. Other worries fade away. Things shift into perspective. The whole day is better after a good workout.
Give it some time if you’re new to fitness. Those benefits don’t come immediately. At first it can feel like a drain, and the initial soreness can be very painful. But like everything else, the good stuff takes work.
Poor nutrition and toxic ingredients prevent the body from working right. This includes the brain. The brain doesn’t work right when we don’t get the right nutrition. When the brain doesn’t work right, we feel like shit. This goes for the body, too, but I find it surprising how many people think that the brain’s ability to function properly, including (but not limited to), dealing with stress, remaining objective, and controlling anger, has nothing to do with physical health. Studies show that chemical toxins, both in food and in our environment, have a direct correlation to our overall wellbeing.
B Vitamins, D, oils
B vitamins, vitamin D, and healthy fats are absolutely essential to our wellbeing. Anyone suffering from depression or any other mental health issue needs to consider taking high quality supplements and changing their diet.
Staying in the Moment
We spend so much time wishing to be in a different time. With phrases like, “I can’t wait until…” and, “Remember when things were…” But we so often fail to realize that the moment you are in now could very well be a time you long for later.
Learning to stay in the moment has been absolutely life changing for me. There are rarely any problems in the present. Putting yourself in the moment, and staying there, is difficult at first, but it puts things in perspective. Exercise is a great way to do this. Yoga and meditation are also very good at teaching us to stay in the moment. Whenever life gets overwhelming, consider that the problems at hand are in the future. Right now, at this very moment, we have everything we need.
Have you ever had a day where you felt great, and then you had one or two little things happen to you and all of the sudden your life sucks? Life is all about perspective. Our perspective is our life. And that means that our life, no matter where we are in it, is our choice. A terrible situation for one person can be an incredible experience for another. It all depends on perspective.
I was in prison, after having lost my daughter, my friends, the business I had just started, and what felt like my whole life. I had lost everything I thought I cared about except for my mom who came to see me every single chance she could. And in that prison, when I got to see my mother, I was filled with joy. I spent all week looking forward to visitation. Hugging my mom meant everything to me. I was in prison, and every day I got to hug my mom was amazing. This was after a year of being in jail where I could only see my mom through glass. Prison was wonderful because I not only got to hug her, I got to go outside, walk in the grass, exercise, eat raw vegetables, and feel the sun on my skin. I got none of this in jail. A year deprived of all of these pleasures put things in a whole new perspective. And I never let go of that.
It really is the little things in life that you’ll remember, that you’ll laugh about, that you’ll hold in your heart. No one (or at least, very few people) lays on their death bed agonizing over a bad business decision. Stay in the moment with a fresh perspective and look at the joy you can feel. It’s there. Sometimes you just have to look harder for it.
I Am Happy
I have been through more crap than most people who read this article would ever know. I carry pain with me at all times. There is a sadness that may never go away, due to a major loss in my life. But I am still, really, very happy. I love life. I live in the smallest home I have ever lived in. I have less stuff than I have ever had. I am starting Green Lifestyle Market and it is very stressful. But still, I am not only happy, I am joyful. I keep my diet clean. I exercise. I don’t give a damn what other people think of me because it’s none of my business, and I love being me. If you are reading this article, looking for your own happiness, I wish you the very best and sincerely hope you find it. I am sure it is with you, that it has always been with you, waiting for you all along.
- B-Complex #6 – Thorne Research
- Vitamin D – Thorn Complex
- Krill Oil
- Shillintong’s Total Nutrition Formula