Pleasure is easy but happiness is hard

Pleasure is easy.

A rush of pleasure neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin can easily be obtained by activities like browsing social media, eating a cookie, laughing, etc.

While some of these activities are good for us, some can be harmful if we get addicted to short-term momentary pleasure.

Instant gratification is not reliable for long-term greater happiness.

Everyone wants to be happy. We do most of the things in life because we want to be happy. So why is it so hard to be happy?

Once we get happiness it doesn’t take much time before we lose it. We keep chasing happiness and it never seems to stay with us.

What if we stop chasing happiness? How amazing it would be if we become a ‘happiness magnet’.

There is no magic spell to attract happiness. But there are a few ways I personally use to ‘hack’ happiness.

1. Suffer

Suffer? Isn’t suffering opposite of happiness?

We all have been taught that suffering is miserable. It’s painful and makes us feel terrible.

It’s all true. But what we’re not often told is that suffering is happiness in disguise.

If we never experience suffering we’ll never experience true happiness. In order for us to truly appreciate the beauty of happiness, we need to experience suffering.

A prize money earned by thousands of hours of hard work and practice is way more valuable than money won from a lottery. Yes, both will bring happiness to you but the happiness that you’ll experience in the first scenario would be priceless.

The first reason for that is the feeling of pride and achievement which you will not get if you win a lottery. The more effort we put into something, the more we value it.

Another reason why suffering brings happiness to us is that when our goal is meaningful enough, suffering becomes a way of happiness.

If you look at athletes training hard, you might think that they are in misery and pain. They indeed experience pain but happiness becomes part of the pain.

You don’t need to smile to be happy. You could be sweating, huffing and puffing and be happy if you enjoy something.

I’m sure you’ll have at least one thing in life that you enjoy suffering for. It could be exercising, hustling, parenting, traveling, and so on. Every journey is a combination of pain and pleasure. The combination results in happiness.

Whether you believe it or not, we seek obstacles. If life were too easy, we’ll be bored to death.

2. Take shots of happiness

Happiness is a state, not an object to keep. If you aim to be happy 24*7, you’ll end up in misery. At one point, you’ll become tired of being happy and emotions like anger and sadness will take its place.

The absence of happiness will create room for happiness. You can fill the void of unhappiness with activities that can make you feel at peace. Activities like deep work, deep thinking don’t directly bring happiness to us but they can put us in the state of flow which I’ve talked about in the previous post.

Remind yourself to be happy. We all have heard the phrase “happiness is a choice”. What it means is that at any given moment, we can change our mental state. Realize that all our thoughts are a product of our experiences, surroundings, and imagination.

If you’re dwelling on a past mistake or worrying about a future event, you can choose to look up at the sky and get lost in the beauty of nature. I know it’s easier said than done. It takes practice and awareness of our thoughts to ‘choose happiness’.

At least once a week, schedule a gratitude meeting with yourself. You can do it on daily basis on a journal too but don’t let it become a mundane task. Writing or speaking can help you express your thoughts but you need to feel the emotions every time you express gratitude.

3. Miss out on life

We have unlimited choices at any moment of our life. We are always missing out on something. There is no best way to spend your time.

Sometimes, we feel sad because of missing out an event or activity. Be okay with that sadness. When we choose to do something, we are automatically not doing thousands of other things that we could have done.

Appreciate the one thing that you’re not missing out on. If you were not reading this post, you would be doing some other activity. But you don’t have to think about what you’re not doing. The possibilities are endless.

4. Do random acts of kindness with no expectation of getting anything in return.

It’s no surprise that making others happy is one of the best ways to think beyond our own problems. If you do something bigger than yourself, you’ll be free of your own small worries of life.

You can do the random act of kindness for your friends, family, colleague, strangers or simply share happiness with them by involving them in your experience.

If you want to pursue kindness, you’ll first have to be happy yourself. If you’re not in a positive state, you’ll do injustice to people around you.

Make others happy so that you can be happy and be happy so that you can make others happy.

Advertisements

There’s more to life than happiness and success

Success and happiness are two overused words that get tossed around so often in self-help books.

If we stay happy all the time, we’ll disregard the value of being happy. If we never experience unhappiness we’ll devalue happiness.

If we become successful and get everything we wanted there will be nothing to achieve. Also, the reward of success is amplified thousand times when we work hard to get something.

Our end goal is not to be happy or successful per say.

Our ways to be happy or successful might differ but in the end, all we want is fulfilment in life.

Here’s how you can live your life to the fullest beyond being happy in the present moment or being successful:

1. Pursue something that excites you

Whether it’s your job, side hustle or a passion project for yourself, find something that sparks fire in you.

2. Always have something to look forward to

Anticipation is more rewarding than the reward itself. Remember the last day before summer holidays or the day of last exam.

3. Find meaning and shift your attitude

No matter how small your job is, believe that you’re doing something meaningful.

“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”

”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”

“Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.”

4. Change your narrative

Imagine that you life story will be turned into a movie. Embrace the time of adversity. We can’t change our reality but we can change our perspective. See failures as opportunities to grow.

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” – Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way.

5. Make difference in people’s life

No matter how small or big,  make a positive impact in other people’s life. You can choose to deeply impact a few people’s life or make smaller impact on many people.

6. Do things you really enjoy

Even if other people don’t get it. Even if it does’t make you money. It could be a hobby, field of study or any obsession like collecting, organizing, cleaning, painting, playing, singing, dancing, writing, etc.

You can immerse yourself into deep work or play and experience what’s called as flow.

7. Have novel experiences

Routine can trap our mind and narrow our perception. Expose yourself to different experiences that can potentially turn into good stories to tell.

8. Do scary things

Step out of your comfort zone not only to find opportunities for growth, but also to feel proud about yourself regardless of the outcome. Feel proud because you tried. This will build your self esteem and make you feel good about yourself.

9. Connect with people

Be part of a community of people who have similar goals. Also, make sure to form close relationship with few people.

10. Take care of yourself

Your mind and body are the tools that determine the way you experience your life. Respect them enough to take good care of them.

11. Grow

Become a better version of yourself in different aspects of your life.

12. Celebrate

Life is too short for not celebrating small wins. Be grateful for little things in life.

13. Let go

Let go of attachment with everything. Nothing is permanent.


Life is not just about being happy or successful. They are only part of the experience.

Life is a process. It’s about how you live that determines the quality of your life.

If you’re often doing at least a few things mentioned above, you’ll make the most of your life.