Being happy means different things to different people. We often chase happiness like it's something just out of our reach. We think we have to do something special to feel it. The question is are we expecting too much from happiness?

Often we chase happiness like it’s something off in the distance just slightly out of our grasp.

We treat it like it’s a destination on a map that we need to reach.

I can’t help but wonder, do we expect too much from happiness or are we not expecting enough?

Here are some of my thoughts on happiness.

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Understanding happiness means different things to different people

When we think of happiness we generally think of someone smiling and laughing.

While this is understandable it’s important to remember happiness doesn’t look and feel the same to everyone.

The dictionary definition of happy is – feeling or showing contentment or pleasure.

Introverts and extroverts for example often have different ways of expressing happiness. Talking is a key factor. Just because introverts are not talking doesn’t mean they aren’t happy and just because an extrovert is talking and socializing doesn’t mean they are.

While we all have our differences, I highly recommend laughing and smiling as much as possible!

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Don’t expect to be happy all of the time

I think it would be foolish to think we can be happy all of the time.

Stuff happens – life happens and we have to deal with whatever gets thrown at us.

Accept that you might have a down day every now and then.

Work through any emotions you are struggling with at the time instead of denying they exist. We all get knocked down.

Our levels of happiness depend on how quickly we pick ourselves back up again.

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Happiness is a part of life

Some people go to the opposite extreme and don’t expect to be happy at all.

Perhaps they feel life is more about service and suffering or more to the point about overcoming suffering.

Each to his own but personally I prefer to go with the – we were put on this earth to be happy and help each other option.

Embrace happiness as a wonderful part of life.

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Don’t put terms and conditions on your happiness

One of the worst things you can do is put terms and conditions on being happy.

Thoughts such as – I will be happy when I get married or I will be happy if I get married before I turn 30 – are putting terms and conditions on your happiness, not to mention added pressure on yourself.

We often don’t realize we are limiting our own joy with terms and conditions.

This is about being aware and weeding those ‘if’ and ‘when’ happiness killers out of our lives.

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Carve out pockets of happiness even during times of hardship

I know when tragedy or serious illness strikes a person or family it can be hard to feel happy.

Grief can send us into a spiral of sadness and loss.

My Dad being told he was dying in November 2000 was the worst time of my life. The following year was truly awful and one I would never want to endure again.

Oddly enough now that I think back there were snippets of happiness scattered throughout that horrible year.

Time with my friends found me laughing and feeling happy, despite my sense of grief and sadness.

During times of hardship or struggle, it’s more important than ever to carve out moments of happiness. Sometimes despite how you feel you have to be proactive in seeking out friends, family, or events that you know will bring you joy.

Make sure you recognize those precious moments and make the most of them while they last.

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Understand happiness is in the small moments as well

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that happiness is mainly found in the big moments of our lives. The big trips overseas (don’t get me wrong I do love those!) or the big celebrations.

While all of those big occasions are great and definitely up our happiness quota, happiness is also found in the small and everyday moments.

This is definitely something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. Happy moments don’t have to be big, bold, and in your face. They can be small, joyous moments that you treasure.

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Understand happiness is a choice

As much as it can be hard to imagine at times, happiness is a choice.

I know on some days it probably doesn’t feel that way. When we are tired, overworked, anxious, sad, or stressed it hardly feels like a choice at all.

I’m job hunting at the moment and I can tell you it can be difficult to feel happy after a series of rejections.

Self-discipline over our emotions plays a major role (I’ve been struggling with this one myself lately, hence the post on happiness).

When we allow ourselves to get into a negative mindset happiness is much harder to summon.

When we are swinging towards negativity it can feel comforting and even easier to head over into that neighborhood.

At this point, it’s important to do something positive to break our cycle of negative thinking.

Be prepared that it may take more than one course of action but keep taking positive and joyful steps until feelings of happiness return.

Yes, sometimes even happiness takes a little work! You deserve to be happy. Know what makes you happy and do more of it in your life.

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