These are not easy days to feel happy. Even if you try your best, you can’t really run away from the realities of the world — pandemic and its ensuing aftermath. Social disorder and growing inequalities. Anxiety about the well being of those you love and care for. It is hard to stay optimistic and happy.
And I am the first to admit that I go down the rabbit hole once too often. Lately, I am fearful of the pandemic and how it is ravaging parts of India, especially my old neighborhood, where my aging parents still reside. And yet, I try really hard to find a reason to be happy.
I came across this piece of self-help advise from Nick Wignall — 4 things happy people don’t do. It is a more optimistic headline, for I read it as what you can dot to not be unhappy. Here is what Wignall suggests.
- Stop worrying about things you can’t control — The only reason we worry is because it gives as an illusion of control and false sense of security that we are “doing something.”
- Don’t be critical of yourself — Skip the negative self-talk. Nick says treat yourself like you would treat a good friend.
- Let go of expectations — expectations are merely a desire for control. You can’t control others and your expectations of others are a sure way of getting disappointed and thus being unhappy. Nick suggests for a month have no expectations.
- Prioritize values over feelings — Nick says instead of having your feelings decide your actions, how about having your values decide your actions.
These are good tips. A lot of what he suggests was said best by Marcus Aurelius who pointed out :
"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature."
I recommend that you read his full piece. It is worth the time.
June 22, 2020, San Francisco