Forget ‘Happy’ – Try ‘Content’

Pharrell Williams may have sung about it, but I wonder how many of us can truly say that we are ‘happy’ all of the time? Sure, we can be happy at times, but are we asking too much to be actually, genuinely, really happy 24/7? Yet there is an expectation that we need to be happy in our jobs, at school, and especially in our relationships with each other – but is this realistic?

There is a difference between being happy and unhappy, and certainly, if you are unhappy then you need to do something about it. Life is not a dress rehearsal, so don’t feel that you need to stick with a life that makes you unhappy. You can change your job, your friends, or even your own outlook if you are unhappy, however, expecting to be happy all the time is just a bit unrealistic.

Marketeers have done a great job over the years of convincing us that buying or owning certain things will make us happy. Whether that is a new top, a games console, car, or even a big house to live in. We are taught to aspire to own things in the belief that this will make us all happier. You may get a little rush of excitement or happiness when you buy something new, but this is a short-lived, fleeting sort of happiness that needs to be repeated to be maintained – and that can get very expensive.

Perhaps then, rather than seeking out that broad-grinned, constantly beaming type of happiness, we should be seeking something a little more sustainable. After all, despite our best intentions bad things can and do happen. You may have a bit of a bad day at work where it seems like you have lots to do in too little time, or you may find a particular part of your studies tough to get to grips with. These types of struggle are pretty normal, but don’t tend to induce feelings of happiness.

Of course, you should also remember that not all failure is bad – it is how we learn and improve. So, while it may not make you ‘happy’ failure is often the route that leads to your overall success.

You may also feel troubled by something in the news, or have a disagreement with a friend or family member. These things can be out of your hands and can put a severe dampener on your feeling happy. Perhaps it is time to look for another objective outside of happiness to achieve?

Rather than being happy, you might want to look to be content. Ironically, when you stop chasing ‘happiness’ you can start to feel happier – less like there is something wrong with you and more open to just getting on with life.

This doesn’t mean giving up on trying to achieve goals and dreaming big, but it means trying to find some sort of peace with your life. You may not like all aspects of your job, but if you can accept the less-fun bits and enjoy the rest, then you can be content.

Being kind to others can also bring you great joy. Instead of thinking about yourself all the time, you may actually find that helping other people and making a positive difference can bring you happiness too. Such moments of happiness are great, but trying to sustain them all the time is likely to just leave you feeling inadequate.

So, when it comes to thinking about your dream career, what course you want to study, or even what you want to do next weekend, striving for contentedness rather than absolute happiness is likely to be more achievable and realistic. There is a touch of mindfulness in all of this – the idea of being aware of your feelings and emotions – which can actually even improve your studies.

Ultimately, you have a range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings, so expecting to just feel one of them all of the time is slightly odd. Be happy, by all means, but don’t expect it all the time. Instead, you might want to try being content, calm, and accepting and, who knows, in the end, that may actually make you happier.

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