Today, books exist for absolutely anything you want. However, there are many books that try to direct you how to simply, exist. Self help books aim to equip you with the tools and knowledge needed to live your ideal life. No more stress, no more angst, if you read these books and act in the way that they express, you are apparently destined to live happily ever after. These my friends, are lies. Just like how a cook book won't necessarily make you cook your meal perfectly, it is very difficult to apply self help books to your life when you are set in your ways and they are dictating what seems to be an overly-philosophical and optimistic view to life.
After having read a few chapters of some of these books in the past, I will admit that I have thought 'Ok, this is the way forward,' when (if you once again pardon my cheesiness) our destiny is decided by US and not a book. In my opinion happiness as one aspect of these books shouldn't be seen as something you have to go on a spiritual journey for and rather something that you can acquire if you have the right mindset.
It is with these belief that I have created a mini-guide as to how you can achieve happiness with a realistic attitude and you don't need to make significant life changes like books will sometimes suggest.
- Love yourself
Before you think I am on drugs and am seeing 'psychedelic' colours, I want to explain what I mean when I say love yourself. These days, many people are so pessimistic and can't seem to find the good in themselves because they are overwhelmed by what they perceive to be their huge character flaws, that in the big picture, are actually minuscule. I will admit that in the past, I have been one of these people. It is so easy to say 'I'm bad at this' and to criticise ourselves when we actually deserve more credit than we give ourselves. Do we live in a humble society, are we afraid of appearing arrogant? Whatever it may be, the truth is that compliments are lovely and when we can genuinely get them from ourselves, this is when they mean the most. Even if loving yourself means putting your feet up and watching Emmerdale instead of doing an extra hour of revision, you should do what makes you happy and give yourself rewards for your achievements and hard work.
- Pull out some perspective!
'Oh for god's sake! This is a disaster!' Is it really though? As humans, we can sometimes exaggerate by saying that something is 'the end of the world' when in fact, is only seems the end of OUR world for a short period of time. I view perspective as such an important trait in a person's character because it is with this that people can reduce pressure others place upon them, as well as the pressure they put on themselves. Perspective means that you can see things realistically- you don't look at the world idealistically through rose tinted glasses and you equally don't see the world as one big hell hole- I am taking you to both extremes, of course. Happiness is influenced by perspective in that if you look at something and realise it isn't as scary or as much of an obstacle as you previously thought, you find it easier to overcome. Perspective can ultimately make you a calmer being, as well as happier because you can see what is in front of you for what it is- this means looking at exam results (sorry for the exam references) and seeing them as exam results on a sheet of paper- rather than something that decides your whole future because as I said before, you control your life and your future.
- Surround yourself with positive people
This one really speaks for itself. Happiness doesn't come from being with people that constantly put you down or with people that bring out the nasty side of your character. Happiness is built up from so many things, I'm not a guru, I can't say exactly what, but it makes sense that if you are with a group of people you enjoy being with, you will be happy.
- Do what makes you smile :)
This is again, probably one of the most obvious ones but so many people ignore it. I could quite easily lark on about following your heart etc. but I previously criticised overly-philosophical books, so I have to choose my words carefully. Do what makes you smile means that if you have a hobby you enjoy- do it. If there's something that you want to do- do it. Life is so precious and we therefore need to embrace it and grab it whilst we can. Sitting around and not doing much is all well and good, but we live for the days that we will remember forever and simply just the days where we can let go and enjoy ourselves. Hobbies give us our important 'me time' that we all deserve and give us the chance to let ourselves go.
We spent so much of our time thinking about the past and the future- but what about the present? I once read a book called 'The Perfect Present' and whilst it was very simple, it spoke volumes to me. It explained the obvious: that the past is behind us and we can never change it, whilst the future hasn't even happened yet and the present is here, NOW. The present is the time that we should be living in so that we can decide our future and make past memories that we can look at with great happiness. It's a bit extreme for me to say 'Live like there's no regrets' because in our futures, we will always have regrets, how ever big or small. Nevertheless, I believe that the most vital part of the 'key to happiness' is living in the moment, now, here and not looking anywhere else.
I'm not saying that if you do all these things you will end up really happy and that you will never experience sadness because the truth is that sadness is a part of life and strengthens our character. I simply believe that by applying these pieces of advice AS WELL AS living by your own morals, mantras and mumbo-jumbo, you will be able to find your own level and seek out the life that you want to lead.
Please note, I do not own the above image and it is from www.notsalmon.com.