To find true happiness, not much is required. Happiness is found when you let go of expectations, desires, and negative thinking patterns. Happiness is a choice, not an outcome of a situation. Your happiness relies solely on you and your decision in a moment and depends on your outlook on life. Happiness comes when you learn to stay in the now rather than live in the future. Furthermore, happiness is simply a byproduct of accepting the present and allowing life to unfold as it should. Thus, it is not a destination but a journey.

7 Places People Look for Happiness (That They Shouldn’t)

Happy people know all of these things. On the other hand, unhappy people constantly seek things outside themselves for fulfillment.

1. Your Next Vacation

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”  Seth Godin

Most people exude happiness when planning a vacation, and why shouldn’t they? Thinking about traveling to a faraway place, seeing new lands, meeting the locals, and learning about a new culture would excite anybody – but what happens when you get back? The problem with relying on a future trip for happiness is that eventually, the trip is over, and reality sets back in. You have to get back to work, responsibilities, and daily grind. Of course, everyone should attempt to travel at some point in their lives. Traveling allows you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about new places and cultures.

However, happy people realize their contentment shouldn’t be vested solely in vacations. They find happiness in their everyday routines and love their lives, so that vacation is simply a bonus to their already rewarding lives.

2. Material Possessions

“Collect memories, not things.” – Unknown

Retail therapy is commonplace for unhappy people to look for happiness. It’s fast, easily attainable, instantly gratifying, and most importantly, satisfies our ego. Our egos always want more because they survive from acquiring more stuff. However, the temporary high we get from attaining more material items quickly fades, and we are left with an empty feeling, needing more stuff to feel happy again. This endless cycle keeps many people heading to shopping malls to fill a deeper void in their lives, rather than facing the problem head-on. Unhappy people cover up this void with the latest gadgets and clothes, thinking that happiness is found in material gain.

However, happy people know that true gratification is found in lasting pursuits. Such pleasures might be following dreams, building relationships, and contributing to society in a valuable way. Trade a trip to the mall for a trip with your family to your favorite spot in nature; you’ll find more fulfillment in making memories than spending money on things that lose their value in only a few weeks.

3. In Other People

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde

Relationships can bring great happiness – you confide in your significant other, share a life with him or her, bond with your children over bedtime stories and heart-to-heart talks, and look to your friends for advice when you go through a rough patch in life. Relationships are essential to humanity, providing us with companionship, love, and joy. However, depending on others to make you happy means you place all your worth in how much attention others give you.

Being truly happy means developing a healthy relationship with yourself first and sharing that happiness with others. All relationships in life are simply a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Happy people practice self-love and have clear goals and dreams in life. Happy people don’t look for others to complete them. Instead, they view their relationship with others as enhancing their lives. Unhappy people look to others as a source of happiness, but when the person leaves, happiness does too. Find happiness within, and it will never leave.

4. In Your Bank Account

“Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end. – Bob Marley

Getting caught up in your money is easy because living can be expensive. However, you won’t find happiness in your wallet, your paycheck, or your bank account. The wealthiest people are usually some of the unhappiest people, which proves that happiness does not increase with more income. More money usually means more to worry about, more taxes to pay, more bank accounts to monitor, more insurance to buy, and generally, more of everything. Having more money usually creates less happiness, ironically.  Happy people are thankful for what they have and do not desire anything more. They understand that happiness comes from loving life as is rather than desiring more money. You can’t take money with you when you die, and having more of it now usually means you had to sacrifice precious time to make additional income.

Instead of placing value in having a large bank account, focus on having lots of memories and experiences, and take large doses of laughter each day. Money is fleeting, but memories last forever.

5. The Perfect Life Situation

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

The pursuit of perfection is never-ending unless you choose to change your idea of flawlessness. If you always seek perfection in life and are never satisfied with how things are, how will you be satisfied with life in the future? What if life never seems perfect in your eyes? The truth is, the idea of perfection is relative.

Perfection exists if you wish it to, meaning that any situation can be perceived as perfect. You may never have the “perfect” job, “perfect” house, or “perfect” family. But you can change your mind about them and find beauty in the imperfect. Unhappy people wait for perfection before they are happy. However, happy people make the best of each situation, finding something positive in the darkest places.

Life naturally has ups and downs; this rollercoaster makes us better able to appreciate the good by experiencing the bad If you want to be happier, embrace your life and learn to look at it as a story constantly unfolding; you don’t have to know the ending to be happy with the middle and beginning.

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6. Recognition From Others

“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” – Confucius

Relying on others to approve our decisions or give us praise for something we’ve accomplished usually leads to disappointment because people don’t always notice. They might be too busy, forget to reply to your text or email, or even refuse to recognize your accomplishments due to jealousy. Whatever the reason, looking outside yourself for approval often leads to unhappiness because your ego needs others to validate your achievements constantly. It is never satisfied and feeds on continual attention from others.

Learning to pat yourself on the back without relying on others to fuel your confidence will teach you self-reliance and show you that the most reliable source of praise comes from within. If others aren’t around to take note of your latest triumph, you always will be. Unhappy people need others to give them recognition. In contrast, self-actualized, happy people give themselves validation and look at compliments outside themselves as humbling reminders of what they already know.

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7. Being Famous

“With fame, you know, you can read about yourself, somebody else’s ideas about you, but what’s important is how you feel about yourself – for survival and living day to day with what comes up.” — Marilyn Monroe

Many people get motivated at the chance of getting famous; they think by gaining fame and attention, that their business will grow, they will be more popular, they will have more money, and life will be much more enjoyable. Celebrities glorify fame, making it seems glamorous and appealing for many reasons. People fight to take pictures with them, rush to stores to buy their latest products, and even want to be them. However, it would be best if you didn’t wait to be famous for being happy. What if fame never comes? You should learn to be happy with the friends and family you have now. They love and support you and want to see you happy.

Unhappy people seek fame to feed their ego, looking at others’ opinions as paths to eternal happiness. However, happy people don’t look at fame as a means to an end, but rather a possible byproduct of living life to the fullest each day and following their hearts.

What other do familiar places unhappy people seek happiness?   Add to the discussion below!