Dr Radha: How to be happy, from managing expectations to not comparing yourself to others – iNews

Happiness is a great thing. It is probably one of the few things that we can say without any doubt that we all want, no matter who we are. Happiness is one of the most pleasurable feelings and it is something we all want to experience. It refills us, it can connect us to others and it can motivate us to be open to opportunities in life.
So, if we all want more of it and we all like it – why can’t we get it?
There are countless articles, books, films, quotes and more about how we can be happier, yet it still remains a mystery to us, a never-ending search.
If we want more of something, then not only do we have to find strategies to cultivate and create it, we also have to look at what gets in the way of it. And that’s my focus here: what does get in the way of our happiness? I would argue that, sometimes, it is happiness itself.
The biggest thing that can get in our way of being happy is our expectations about it. We are frequently given the message by society that we should always be happy. But no feeling can ever be permanent – and any time “should” is used, my advice would be to tip a huge bucket of salt over it.
When we expect to be happy all the time, we are inevitably going to be disappointed, as we won’t just experience unhappiness as a normal consequence of life. It is an illusion and once we start to see it for what it is, we can enjoy our happiness when it is there and accept it when it isn’t.
The same goes for how tightly we hold on to happiness. Anything that we hold on to, not allowing it to be free or to come and go, will undoubtedly suffer, and in the process of being suffocated with the expectation of permanency, leave us anyway. Let happiness come and go as it pleases, and you will find more of it.
Happiness is such a difficult feeling to describe because it looks very different for all of us. What makes one person happy could make another sad. We all have a unique relationship with happiness and to help us feel more of it, we need to understand that relationship.
What makes us happy? What makes us unhappy? Is happiness our ultimate goal, or is it preferable to want joy, which is a much more inherent feeling and less attached to external factors? Who has told us that we don’t deserve to be happy, or have we been ignoring our own needs? Once we understand our relationship with happiness, we find it more often.
Comparison with other people’s apparently “happy” lives can bring us unhappiness. Making someone else responsible for your happiness makes us powerless, because they can never fulfil our need.
Making our relationships our only source of happiness also leads to unhappiness, and being dependent on someone else to “rescue” us. Yet when we can support others in finding their own happiness, we feel happy, and when we share happiness with others, both parties benefit.
Ultimately, we are in charge of how we feel; sometimes we will feel happy and other times we won’t. Sometimes we will feel ecstatic and can cast off the heaviness of unhappiness. At other times life may feel overwhelming or we may be challenged by our mental health, and happiness will be harder to find.
Both these states of being are OK. Both are normal. Perhaps when we accept this, we can actually be happy.
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