Our personal happiness is always at the whim of our own self-sabotage if, at any given moment, we don’t feel completely overjoyed. We mistake this for genuine dissatisfaction or unhappiness. I think we are so far from accepting that happiness is not a sustained sensation of joy that sometimes, we’re happier than we think we are. Happiness means interest, it means honing in on the art of learning to just be. Sometimes we’re doing this and we don’t even realize it, and we let our minds talk us out of our own contentment with petty complaints and minor issues that we irrationally expound upon. Part of getting over this is coming to terms with the little ways our lives show us we’re happy even if we’re not conscious of it.
1. It’s not like it was– you can look back and feel gratitude and pride for getting through a rough period. Sometimes we get into defense mode and remain there even after something traumatic happens as we’re waiting for the next terrible thing to occur. It is a naturally effective coping mechanism, if, you know, we were still dealing with legitimate issues of fight-or-flight survival, but in modern life, it doesn’t do much more than sabotage the time you have to spend not being miserable.
2. Your default is “content” but because you’re not thrilled, you think you’re not happy. As I’ve said a hundred times before, if you are waiting for a sustained high to overcome you to dub yourself happy, you’ll be waiting forever. Happy really means that you’re accepting of whatever comes your way, you experience things, you let the universe give and take what it needs to. At the end of anything, you’re still okay.
3. Even when it’s frustrating, you’re doing the work you know you love, even if it’s just once in a while and even if it’s just as a hobby. If you can make time for the things that you know make you happy, and more importantly, you know what those things are, you’ve uncovered what people spend years seeking: meaning.
4. These are the days you were waiting to get to months or years ago. You’re just forgetting to enjoy being where you were waiting to go.
5. You have a healthy relationship in your life. I do not mean romantically necessarily. But if you have one or two beautiful, unconditional friendships or other relationships in your life, you are more fortunate than you even realize. All it takes is imagining your life without these people to realize how little attention you give to all the times you enjoy being with them.
6. Once in a while you look around and feel bad for not being grateful for everything you have. We’re all guilty of this of course, but if you can honestly say you frequently have to remind yourself how good you have it, you’re much happier than you’re letting yourself believe.
7. You offer guidance to those who are in the shoes you were in. It means you have the knowledge to share. It means you have actually gotten through something and now retain some kind of clarity or wisdom from it. It means you are able to see in retrospect, and to be far enough away from it that you want to help others who are still there.
8. You’ve found yourself smiling while you’re alone. You’re not putting on a front for anybody. If you want to see how you really feel about something, start noticing your facial and other physical expressions when nobody’s there to watch or judge you.
9. You’re looking forward to the future, but not more than you’re enjoying where you are right now. This is a fine line to walk, but really, what we all need is both an appreciation for the current moment as well as hope that there are things worth hanging in there for. You can’t have happiness without a sense of both, and more people do than they realize.
10. The little things genuinely bring you joy. Your morning coffee made you feel so peaceful and happy, but you brushed it off, because it’s silly for a cup of coffee to make you happy, right? Learning to just feel that, and not let your logic combat it, is what will immerse you in the happiness you unknowingly experience.
11. You have a passion. Sometimes I think that’s all you need to lead a fulfilling life. It’s the one thing that nobody can change in you, the thing that you can keep reaching for even if nothing else works out. The thing that lifts your heart.
12. You feel a sense of purpose beyond just your own existence. There is something unbelievably gratifying about giving your life and energy to someone else. It branches you out from your core, selfish need for survival, and gives you a purpose to hold onto other than your own appeasement.
13. You laugh easily; you want to talk to people. I’ve found that people who are happy tend to be more talkative, it’s almost as though they want to share their happiness with people, or to connect with them on another level. It’s a sign that your heart and mind are open.
14. There is no legitimate crisis in your life, so you spend your time concerned with petty things so you think you’re upset but really, things are mostly going swimmingly. This is what it all boils down to: we like to inject meaning into our experiences to feel as though we are more than just existing amoebas, but this doesn’t always benefit us in the way we want it to.
15. You’re ready to apologize and move on. When it’s okay, it’s over.
16. There’s nothing keeping you up at night. If, at the end of the day, no matter what happened in the hours before, you have the coveted ability to let it all go, close your eyes, and have faith in tomorrow, you are unknowingly embracing the most important element of happiness: unconditional acceptance.