Discovering Happiness May Not Lead Where You Expect

Three ways to find what makes you happy without allowing external influences to choose your bliss for you.


A person jumping with joy on a bed of rocks by the ocean
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Society has a set of rules that people live by and pass on to their families. Some common societal norms are being respectful, working hard, getting an education, and having a family. Of course, these are more traditional ideas that have evolved. However, blending in with what everyone else is doing doesn't necessarily benefit you.


Expectations versus reality


If you were to walk up to a group of students about to enter college and ask them their long-term goal, you will get a variety of answers on where they want to be in 10 years. We had a conversation with a person that grew up wealthy. In their family, the expectation was perfect grades, college, and having a high-paying job like a lawyer or doctor. The expectation of success was placed in them from childhood, and that was the trajectory of their life. Nevertheless, this wasn't what they wanted. The pressure to meet their parents' expectations clouded their minds to the reality of what they wanted.


The reality of what people want you to do and what you want does not always meet. This can lead to making life choices based on someone else's desire instead of your own. Living life for another person and allowing them to impose their rules on you will not always lead to happiness. It can be the complete opposite and lead to mental health struggles, zero productivity and increase the chances of using negative coping mechanisms.


Learning what you want


The first step to happiness is self-awareness. For example, asking yourself if you want to go to college or do you wear a certain style of clothing because you like it. We know that for ourselves we never were able to be authentically ourselves growing up. The result of this is learning now as adults how to be happy and find happiness with inner peace. Learn what you like and don't like. After that, decide if you can accept it or want to change it. It is always okay to change things and evolve, but the key is making sure you change for yourself and no one else.


The second step is to be involved with what you like without feeling guilty. For example, working at a job is necessary, but it doesn't mean your job is your life. Allowing a supervisor to dictate what you do on your time off is never okay. When your shift is over it is your time, not your boss's time. If you get off work and binge Netflix that is fine if it makes you happy and content. It can be complicated to turn off your brain, but it is an essential part of well-being.


The third step is possibly the hardest: commit to being happy and drown out external noise. Valuing others' opinions is important, but it doesn't make them right. What is right for you may be wrong for someone else and vice versa. Once you commit to being happy, you can spend time in self-discovery and reflection.


Happiness is in the eye of the beholder


Happiness is in your hands. You are the only person that knows you and can truly follow your bliss. Being grounded and happy means you are not being self-destructive or doing things that harm your mental or physical health. Happiness is not painful, shameful, or dangerous if you are authentically happy.


Take some time to self-reflect, become self-aware, do what you like guilt-free and commit to finding your path. In the end, the only person you have is yourself. Taking care of your mind and body is priceless. Your mental health is more important than others' expectations. Never let anyone put a price on your happiness.


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