Today, I want to argue how meaning and virtue provide lasting, sustainable happiness.
How To Find Happiness In Life
“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness” – Ayn Rand
Happiness is “used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy” (from Wikipedia). Feeling happy, elated, and joyful is the worthwhile goal of the individual. However, the way you live, pursue your goals, and engage with others influences your happiness.
To me, there are emotional highs and true happiness. Emotional highs are unstable, short-term, and always hollow. For example, reading biased media that agrees with your opinion gives you an emotional high and a semblance of knowledge. However, you know you have no real understanding of complex issues, and without another short-term “hit” of media consumption, you’ll feel depressed, lost, and anxious.
Therefore, you have to pursue real happiness. That’s why today we are going to explore joy and how to achieve it. Through this journey, I will discuss the common pitfalls people have when pursuing happiness and the best solutions to these mistakes.
What Is The Purpose of Happiness?
Like any other emotion, happiness is a signal to your rational mind. Joy tells you that everything is going well, and you should continue on your present course. Furthermore, gaiety, like humility, is a by-product of virtue. Only through rational, meaningful, and challenging pursuits can you experience genuine happiness.
However, you can fool your emotions. Similar to how you can fake righteous anger by being offended by anything and everything, you can fake happiness by pursuing short-term pleasures. For example, you can take drugs, have casual sex, binge-watch television, and spend time with uninteresting people. At first, you will feel elated. Eventually, the high will wear off, and you’ll realize you haven’t built anything, helped anyone, or advanced your life in any way. In other words, bodily consumption only keeps you happy as long as the object remains in your system, or you are engaged in the activity.
In conclusion, happiness is the signal of a life well-lived. Emotional highs are manipulations of your joy.
How to create long-term, stable happiness | How to be truly happy
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C. S. Lewis
If you want to be happy, you have to pursue virtue, accept the difficulties in life, help others, and control your impulses. Most people are depressed, restless, and lost because they seek what is easy over what is meaningful. They embrace comfort and shun rationality, work, and effort. Ultimately, they build a weak life.
You need virtue, meaning, and productive action to live a happy life. Why? Because true happiness is built on the achievement of your values. If you do not have virtue, you do not have values. If you do not have goals, you have nothing to achieve. Lastly, if you do not act, you have nothing to build.
Consuming drugs, watching TV, spending time around vapid people, and doing similar activities builds nothing. You’re not pursuing your values, adhering to your virtues, or seeking to create a better world. You’re consuming, and consumption only leads to waste.
By pursuing your values, you will ensure your long-term stability:
- Your happiness will be stable and based on what you can change.
- Your happiness will be earned. Thus, not open to the manipulations of others.
- Your happiness is primarily you-focused. Thus, you won’t need others for your joy.
- Your happiness is based on what is virtuous and good. Therefore, you’ll decrease any shame you may feel towards pleasure.
Here are the following ways to achieve stable happiness through virtue and personal achievement.
1. You have to accept life is complicated. Then, refuse to hide from this reality.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington
Those who pursue short-term happiness refuse to acknowledge the difficulty of life. For example, instead of going to gym, eating better, and getting sleep, people prefer unhealthy “solutions” to their health struggles. Fad diets, dangerous drugs, and caffeine pills are the easy “solutions” people pursue. These short-term “solutions” produce worse outcomes, and individuals suffer.
Therefore, you have to accept the difficulty of life. Life is hard, complicated, and often unfair. However, as an individual, you have the tools you need to make life just, easy, and fulfilling. Becoming a better person who helps the needy, creates meaningful relationships, and improves the world will never be natural. But that’s the nature of reality, and the quicker you accept this, the happier you will be.
2. Define what purpose your life has
“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.” – Jordan B. Peterson
Those who crave short-term happiness do not want to think about their lives or deaths. Therefore, they pursue the little things in life to the detriment of their mental health.
However, you need to think critically about your life is you wish to feel better about your future and your chances. Reflecting on the meaning of your life, who you want to be, and the habits you want to build will improve your chances of being happy. As stated earlier, to be content, you need to have achievements to pursue.
Focus on what future you want to build and ensure your actions are pointing you towards that future. The more you accomplish, the happier you will become. Why? Because you are not avoiding your dreams. You are not shunning what is essential. Instead, you are facing your meaningful desires and fighting for them. The more you fight, the stronger you become, and the stronger you are, the happier you can be.
3. Ignore your Whims and build better habits
“A ‘whim’ is a desire experienced by a person who does not know and does not care to discover its cause.” – Ayn Rand
A whim is a sudden desire which is confusing and unexplainable. Your impulses are never rational and don’t adhere to the needs of your life. For example, if you have a sudden desire to travel, you should ignore that feeling if your bank account isn’t on board.
If you give in to your impulses, you will create bad habits. If you have bad habits, you will feel like a prisoner in your own body. Feeling like a prisoner will not help you become happier.
Ignoring whims will help you create better habits. If you have good habits, you will feel in control of your life. Being in control of your life is crucial for happiness. Why? Because you can decide where your life goes.
Are you facing difficulties? You have the habits to point you in a better direction. Are you feeling lost? You have the practices to help you get back on track. Are you feeling scared? You will have confidence in your abilities because you have healthy habits.
Push back against random whims and build habits that make you a better individual.
4. Earn your playtime
Many people are ashamed of their hobbies and passions because these hobbies do not serve their character or the needs of others. Furthermore, their hobbies are where they go to escape, not to celebrate, their lives. Lastly, consumption is a way to avoid the fear of having to live a life worth living.
However, you need to think differently about your playtime. Your hobby does not have to be a source of shame. By enjoying pleasures while you are becoming a better person, you will develop an appreciation of what you have.
How do you do this? You create goals, then set up rewards for accomplishing those goals. Your actions should directly influence whether or not you get to enjoy something. The greater the effort required, the more enjoyable the reward is.
Create incentives to enjoy your playtime. Don’t escape into your hobby to get away from your responsibilities. Let the domination of your responsibilities feed into the enjoyment of your life.
5. Read about the lives of great people
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass
If you want short-term happiness wrapped in meaningless entertainment, then follow the lives of destructive, pointless people. Entertainment, which provides little challenge to your mind, will fade away soon enough. Once the spectacle is over, it will not linger in your soul, and soon, you’ll need more mindless entertainment to keep yourself numb.
Furthermore, specific arguments will feed into your dissatisfaction with life. There are countless politicians, race hustlers, and conmen who will tell you life is not your problem. Furthermore, they will tell you how everything wrong in your life is someone else’s fault. You don’t have to work, they say, instead vote, whine, or tweet, and through the power of magic (i.e., collectivism), you’ll be happy.
However, you won’t. Consumption of lying, vapid entertainment will lead to despair. Why? Because being told you can accomplish something impossible will anger you. If I told you to draw a square circle, you’d lose your mind trying to solve this impossible problem. All your time, energy, and effort will go towards something you can’t fulfill. Similarly, trying to become virtuous by avoiding responsibility will fail. You will never become virtuous by “eating the rich” or tweeting at your political enemies. You’ll remain weak, incapable, and depressed, and this will only grow your resentment.
Therefore, focus on consuming the works of great people. Focus on improving your life instead of listening to charlatans. With power firmly back in your hands, you’ll be able to create the life you’ve always wanted.
6. Control Your Resources and Make Them Work For You
Most people use their money to buy takeout food they can’t afford. They use their emotional energy on people who don’t care about them. Or, they use time on consuming garbage media. One day, these people wake up and realize all their resources are depleted.
Remember, happiness comes from stability. You are truly happy when you know what you’re doing and where you are going. Direct your resources towards progressing your life and achieving the goals you set for yourself.
For example, you should use your time to study and to improve your skills. Invest your money in your education and personal growth. Direct your energy towards streamlining your life and improving your wellbeing.
To be happy, you must be responsible with whatever you have.
How to create long-term happiness | The key to happiness
“Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.” – Jordan B. Peterson
True happiness is the product of virtue, the consistent pursuit of meaningful activities, and the productive use of one’s resources. You will always be embittered, anxious, and high if you pursue what is easy. Casual sex, emotional outbursts, constantly being offended, collectivism, drug abuse, and many other elements of life are created to help you feel good in the moment. Once the high wears off, you are left with an empty, meaningless, and depressing existence.
However, you can become an individual. Concentrate on accomplishing goals you have defined for yourself. Focus on helping others and being a better person. Do what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
- When was the last time you felt happy? Why did you feel that way?
- What difficulties in your life are you trying to avoid? How much better would your life be if you faced your difficulties?
- What’s the biggest difficulty in your life? How can you overcome it? Are you too afraid to overcome this difficulty? What would happen to your quality of life if you won?
- 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson – Jordan Peterson details how life is improved by embracing the struggle, then overcoming it.
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – Dave Ramsey details the best ways to get out of debt and stay debt-free. If you can control your money, you will be happier.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson – The less you desire, the happier you can become. Mark Manson details how giving fewer fucks will increase your happiness.
- The Only Guide to Happiness You’ll Ever Need by Zen Habits
- Stop Trying to be Happy by Mark Manson
- 6 Stoic Rituals That Will Make You Happy by Daily Stoic
- How to Hardwire Your Happiness by Art of Manliness
- How to Be Happy: 23 Ways to Be Happier by Psychology Today
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.