“The mass of [people] lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau
The above quote encapsulates a concept that far too many people blindly accept. We, as human beings, were not made to view life in this way. The pursuit of happiness is a concept that runs almost directly counter to the sentiment in Thoreau’s words. Life was meant to be savored and enjoyed. After all, it’s temporary. There is no measurable reason to accept the concept of quiet desperation as gospel.
There is also no guarantee that life will be without struggle, and therein lies a conundrum. How can a person be happy while, at the same, time constructively deal with the vicissitudes of everyday life? Being happy is not always easy, but we need not spiral into despair either. Let’s look at a few ways that we can meet life in the middle: manage the despairing moments and still maintain a happy attitude and outlook.
Number 1: Treat Every New Day As A Blank Slate
Each day brings with it a new set of challenges. While some problems cannot be solved before bedtime, a new day brings new perspectives. There is a reason why, when faced with tough decisions, many people opt to “sleep on it.” It’s an age-old concept that helps promote positive thinking and better mental health.
Decide, at the end of the day, that the day’s problems belong there. Affirm to yourself that a resolution is likely to be more obvious in the clear light of day. While it may not be a universal absolute, it is an observable truth. Letting the brain and psyche rest can have a strong influence on having clearer thoughts and making better decisions.
Number 2: Don’t Self-Deprecate
Don’t focus on the things you consider to be “wrong” with you. These kinds of thoughts have an undue influence on how we approach everything from work to relationships to personal habits. Most people criticize things about themselves that are either non-issues to the rest of the world or have workable solutions. Here are just a few:
- “People don’t like me…”
- “I have no self-control…”
- “I’m just not smart enough…”
- “I’m not handsome/pretty enough…”
Replacing these thoughts with more positive affirmations (or just eliminating them entirely from your thought processes) can, by itself, create more happiness and contentment with life.
Number 3: Live Life On Your Terms
Don’t let others dictate your morals or ethics. Live and behave in a way that feels right. Commit to living in a way that is harmony with other people and situations. Commit to living by an established set of values. Do, however, apply as many legal and social limitations as needed to be able to interact with and function within various communities (work, home, social settings, etc.)
Number 4: Seek Help With Problems You Consider Unsolvable
Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with problems alone. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses often require the help of a professional counselor or clinician to manage. Don’t stay in an emotional place that makes you feel helpless or makes it impossible not to self-deprecate.
Number 5: Let Go of Anger and Grudges
One of the biggest thieves of happiness is anger. That anger can be directed at people we love and can quickly get out of control. Try not to dwell on anger-inducing situations or people. Offer forgiveness where it is wanted or needed. Don’t carry grudges or hold things over people. Doing so serves only to further deplete positive thoughts and actions.
Attitude Is Everything
Remember that, as human beings, we have the ability to steer our behaviors and perceptions of things in more positive directions. All it takes is a willingness to be happier and using that will to make changes in the thoughts or actions that keep us from being truly happy and content.