In order to truly find 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.
Happy people know all of these things, but unhappy people constantly seek things outside themselves for fulfillment.
7 Places People Look for Happiness (That They Shouldn’t)
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, because traveling allows you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about new places and cultures.
However, happy people realize that their contentment shouldn’t be vested solely in vacations. They find happiness in their everyday routines and love their lives in such a way that vacation is simply an added 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 off of the acquisition of 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 and 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 that you place all your worth in how much attention others give you.
Being truly happy means developing a healthy relationship with yourself first, and being able to share 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 view their relationship with others as a way to enhance 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
It’s easy to get caught up in how much money you have, 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, so that 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 of 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.
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, as well as 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, whereas self-actualized, happy people give themselves validation and look at any compliments outside themselves as humbling reminders of what they already know.
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 liked, 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, you shouldn’t wait to be famous to be happy. What if fame never comes? You should learn to be happy with your friends and family you have now, who love and support you and want to see you happy.
Unhappy people seek fame as a way 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 common places do unhappy people seek happiness? Add to the discussion below!