Happiness is a state of mind, and we, the human, choose to either be in a state of happiness or to be somewhere else.
“Happiness is not a luxury,” argued American financial advisor, author and millionaire Susan Lynn Orman in a 2013 article published by Huffpost, “It is a necessity. When we are happy, we are in the best possible place to be good to ourselves and those we love.”
In this article titled The Qualities of a Successful Life, Suze outlined the attributes that a life must possess before it can be dimmed successful. Happiness is listed as the fifth of eight items–harmony, balance, 200-year present by the likes of American life coach Tony Robbins who believes that “success without [a sense of] fulfillment is the ultimate failure” and Rabbi Louis Binstock who has been widely quoted as saying “when all is said and done, success without happiness is the worst kind of failure”
There is one thing common in all these. Both the thousands-of-dollars worth financial advisor, the highly influential life coach and the spiritually inclined Rabbi agree that happiness is not just a top priority but also a credible yardstick for measuring all successes in the life of every individual.
And so, the nameless author of quote commentary blog Philosiblog was right when he stated that “happiness is much the reward, the motivation, for humans. We strive to be happy and do the things we think and hope will bring it to us.”
Our striving for happiness, moreover, goes way beyond momentary and spontaneous pleasure in flimsiness. It is a life-long conscious decision to battle and overcome all the many obstacles adamantly bent on draining even the last breath of delight from our faces.
Happy woman making call. Pexels.com
And so, like soldiers going to war against an army of enemies, we need to be armed with tactics, and like a mathematician trying to solve a problem, we need to be loaded with formulas for staying happy almost always.
Digital strategist and social media influencer Sola Mathew shares one of such formulas in the concluding pages of I’ve Been there Before, a memoir of his life journey so far, written to inspire readers to rise above whatever they’re going through at the moment into the greater, more interesting reality that lies before them, within arm’s reach.
When asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, the ancient Greek philospher replied: ‘Know yourself.” A couple of millenniums later, this statement still weighs a great deal as Sola placed self knowledge as the first of his 6-step formula for happiness. He writes:
Knowing yourself is a great step to being happy. Stop trying to be someone else. Stop comparing yourself with others. To be honest, there are certain things you can do well and there are certain things you can’t do well or even do at all. When you try to do those last two, you end making yourself unhappy.
After self-discovery comes a total embrace of responsibilities for one’s well being. Starting with a corresponding T. D. Jakes quote that “if you can’t make you happy, no one will,” Sola admonishes against the habit of outsourcing personal happiness.
Stop wishing that someone somewhere would come and make you happy.
Your happiness is not in your parents, friends, or anything. They are just part of it. Your happiness is in you.
What if those people or things that you put your happiness in leave you? What if they eventually die?
So, he advised:
Own your happiness. Set goals for yourself, achieve them and reward yourself. Take yourself out for a dinner. Buy gifts for yourself.
Then he added a bonus motivation for seeking your own happiness: Your happiness is the world’s happiness, developing yourself is developing others. He writes:
Naturally, when you make yourself happy, there is high tendency that you would make others happy. So, it means if you are not happy yourself, you can’t make others happy.
Which brings us to step three of the happiness formula. Having focused on taking responsibilities for your own happiness, you should also invest the excess (or should we say leftover) energy and resources in making others happy because just as your happiness is the world’s happiness, the world’s happiness is also your happiness. Sola writes:
You can never tell how much happiness is in helping others until you [actually begin to do so]. When you help others, you become more fulfilled and happy. Stop thinking of how people would help you always. Instead, start thinking of how to help people.
Time and time and time again, we have been told (even though we might not be listening all those times) that telling our stories is an effective way of healing the pains, soothing the hurts and trudging back to normal after a drastic disorder. Telling our stories is a great way of facing the past squarely and bravely, and didn’t the Yoruba adage say “ojó tí ojú bá rí ibi, ni ibi n wolè”? So it’s only interesting that Sola added storytelling as the fourth of the six steps to happiness. He writes:
Lot of people are afraid to share their stories but one thing I found out is that when you share your story, you are happy. Burdens are lifted. Especially, when you share your story with the right audience. Have you heard the saying that a problem shared is a problem halved? That statement is true.
Confession: Well, I used to think the saying goes “a problem shared is a problem solved,” until Sola informed me it is otherwise.
Now, the fact that you have to face your past by retelling it therapeutically doesn’t mean you should keep living in it. If anyone is in the present, they are a new person different from the person they were. Old things have passed away and everything has become new. And so the new man can only go as far as making a reference to the old man’s story without any form of personal attachment to it. Anything short of this, and the new man’s happiness might be tampered with. Just as Sola advised:
This might be hard but the truth is you cannot be happy if you keep holding on to the past. It’s just the same way you can’t go far if you drive while focusing on the rear-view mirror instead of the road in front of you. You have to let go of the broken relationships, failures, mistakes, etc. The only thing you can do with your past is to learn from it. Move on.
Although we’ve established earlier that your happiness shouldn’t be dependent on external factors, there is a slight exception to the rule. The last step of our formula is to build and value relationships, because no matter how much resistance we develop, our relationships still matter. Remember what we said earlier about your happiness being the world’s happiness and vice versa? Yes. That’s it. Your are not lone, you life’s reaction needs some important relationships to balance its equation.
Elderly women holding a meeting outdoors. Pexels.com
Sola wraps up with an overview of the nature of the relationships you should keep as a step towards finding happiness:
The first valuable relationship you would want to have is the relationship with God. Without Him, you can never be happy. Let Him be your guide and guard. Trust Him, love Him and obey Him. That way you become happy always. Another relationship is with yourself and people. Enjoy the relationship with yourself. Enjoy the relationship with others. Relationships are meant to be enjoyed not endured. If a relationship is not working, don’t force it. How did I know? l have been there before.
A short read, I picked up I’ve Been there Before and finished it in a sitting. While the entirety of the book is an interesting read, I was especially moved by the chapter Sola dedicated to mentioning people that have played important roles in his life till date. Such reminiscing reminds me of the reality that our lives are complex artworks painstakingly crafted by the several hands of everyone (and everything) we come across, from the oldest to the youngest.
Love yourself. It is important to stay positive because beauty comes from the inside out.
— Jenn Proskee