Happiness is a state that everyone strives to reach. People have been anxious about how to find happiness for years. Queries like ‘I don’t know how to be happy’ are the most famous in forums like Reddit or Quora. With that said, let me try to give you my take on how to be happy again.
What is happiness
Happiness is when you feel complete. When you don’t worry about anything. When nothing is missing from your life.
It is when you’ve stopped looking for all the answers in life. When you don’t seek external gratification (through shopping or the approval of others).
"Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind."
You’re happy when you have found inner peace and you’ve become the best version of yourself.
Why we’re not happy
How do you reach the state of happiness though? Most of us think happiness is extremely difficult to achieve.
But if you break happiness into everyday tasks and small edits in your life, then the sum of these tasks and edits can bring you near happiness.
After all, despite my attempt to define it, happiness as a term is something extremely fleeting, because it is in the moments and thus difficult to capture.
The 4 archetypes of psychology
The best way to understand happiness is by looking into four archetypes of psychology.
#1 The hedonism archetype
Imagine eating a tasty junk food hamburger. Eating gives you present benefit (it tastes good), but future detriment (you feel bloated after a while and it deteriorates your health).
This is an example of what is called the hedonism archetype.
A hedonist lives by the maxim, seeks pleasure and avoids pain, they focus on enjoying the present while ignoring the potential negative consequences of their actions.
Other typical examples are watching your favorite sitcom, playing video games or hanging out in a fun place without accomplishing anything.
In moderation however, there is nothing wrong with being a hedonist.
#2 The rat race archetype
In contrast, eating a bunless burger offers you future benefits (it’s considered a healthy meal), but present detriment (you miss the whole burger experience).
This is called the rat race archetype.
The rat racer subordinates the presence to the future, suffers now for the purpose of some anticipated gain.
For example, putting a lot of tedious work studying for an exam or struggling to finish a project at work or refraining from eating an extra dessert, because we know how we’ll feel in the morning.
It’s inevitable that the right thing to do at times is to sacrifice our present experience for an important future outcome.
#3 The nihilism archetype
Let’s now consider a tasteless and unhealthy burger (like the cheap plastic ones at MC Donald’s).
This can offer present detriment (it tastes like plastic) AND future detriment (eating plastic doesn’t help you).
This represents the nihilism archetype.
The person who has lost his lust for life. He neither enjoys the moment nor does he have a sense of future purpose.
Nihilism can be the result of a disappointment or failure or because it’s just one of those days.
We are human beings not machines, we experience ups and downs throughout our life.
#4 The happiness archetype
A homemade burger made by you using high quality organic ingredients gives you present (tasty) AND future (healthy) benefits.
That’s the archetype of happiness.
A happy person lives secure in the knowledge that the activities that bring his enjoyment in the present will also lead to a fulfilling future.
Eating food that we like and is good for us or spending time with people we care about and strengthening our bonds with them while having fun.
Or engaging in a fun project at work that will help us advance professionally.
By doing more of the above, we can increase the amount of happiness in our life.
How to make yourself happy
To move closer to the happiness archetype, zoom out from your life and start observing everything you do every day.
Then make a list of activities that provide you with present and future benefits. This list could look like this:
Try to apply these small changes to your daily life. They can make a big difference to your life as a whole.
Have you started creating your happiness list yet? Once you finish it post it as a comment below, so as we can get inspiration from each other.
Until next time.