Almost all of world culture in its entirety is centered around the strive for happiness. Culture reflects our desires and longing – basically, that’s what it’s here for. As of now, we have suggested hundreds, if not thousands of ways to achieve happiness, and all we have to do is just pick an option that we find the prettiest.
What interests me more is how one can preserve this state and stay happy, how to live one’s life happily. This is what I wanted to investigate in this short piece, as I’ve come up with 5 steps for achieving a happy life.
STEP 1. Realize what makes you happy
Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music was very honest about what makes her happy: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens”. The list is quite clear and comprehensive.
It is a good idea to make such a list for yourself. Just put together your list of things and/or activities that make you feel happy, and make them present in your life. In most cases, they will not be anything too complicated.
Mind that human evolution never stops, and our desires evolve with us. At one point you may find some things desirable, other things at the next point. You must not force your list onto yourself, let it be flexible. For that matter…
STEP 2. Have some time just to yourself
This one is radical. If you want to realize what you want, you may need to optimize this process. This can be done by spending a portion of each day all by yourself. With no distractions whatsoever. No phone, no TV or Internet, no other people. Just you and yourself. This will give you all the right answers to the question about what you really want.
The timing is only up to you, spend as much time as you find appropriate.
STEP 3. Stay healthy
Ancient Roman poet Juvenal praised a healthy mind in a healthy body. Health is indeed an important part of a happy life. A toothache can prevent you from enjoying your schnitzel with noodles.
Therefore, keep your body fit. It doesn’t mean that you need to exhaust yourself with exercise – you can opt for something more relaxing and meditative: yoga or walking.
STEP 4. Sleep well
An important aspect of physical (and mental) health that deserves extra attention is sleep. Only having a good healthy 8 hours (and not less) of sleep each day will keep your metabolism, appetite, and general tonus in a healthy mode. Lack of good and healthy sleep, on the other hand, can cause moodiness, anxiety, and depression, – obviously keeping you from happiness.
STEP 5. Be grateful
When we receive something we like on a permanent basis, it becomes routine, and we can no longer appreciate and enjoy it.
You can prevent it by spending 10-15 minutes per day recollecting people or events to which you are grateful. It can be God if you are a believer. It can also be a waitress that served you a nice espresso with a smile if you can’t start a day without a coffee. It can be a black cat that didn’t cross your path to that cafe if you are superstitious.
This is a subtle way to remind yourself to appreciate the small things that make you happy, thus making them more enjoyable.
Instead of a trivial conclusion, I will crown this piece with my own personal example. I am a writer. What makes me most happy at this point in my life is the opportunity to share and discuss my opinions and ideas on topics that I find interesting, and being appreciated for that.
Upon having written a fragment of work I like to have a few minutes just looking at the ceiling and asking myself – “What’s next?”, and I am happy to find an answer to this question.
I am equally happy at the opportunity to sleep as much as I want and to make long walks along the beach when I wake up.
I am grateful to everyone who contributed to my formation as a writer, mainly my professors at the university. I am grateful to Julie Andrews and Juvenal whose quotations have made this piece possible. And, of course, I am grateful to my readership for making me happy to be appreciated.