If you’re here because you googled ‘how to be happy’, perhaps looking for instructions, then firstly let me congratulate you as I’m pretty sure this doesn’t show up on a google search. Secondly, I feel it’s my duty to inform you that you may be disappointed. There are no instructions, no hard-and-fast rules, no ‘do this and you’ll be happy’. That’s not how it works. Nor can I give you a map and show you how to ‘find’ happiness—it’s not some kind of lost treasure. It’s there inside you, but maybe so deep down that you’re having trouble accessing it right now.
So I suppose what I’m really trying to tell you here is how to let yourself be happy. Especially in our teenage years, there seem to be a lot of obstacles preventing happiness. What if I told you that often we only have ourselves to blame? No, calm yourself, don’t throw the computer out the window—just read on. Please. I’m going to try and help you get rid of the obstacles. Wish me luck, and do keep in mind that I’m still a teenager myself. I don’t have it all figured out. I might have some (all) of this wrong. Above all you can rest assured that anything I advise you against, I will have done at least a dozen times before. Well, someone had to test it out.
Here we go...
1) DON’T OVERTHINK.
Overthinking is something teens tend to be guilty of—though I’m sure as with everything there are a few adults who haven’t grown out of it yet. This can be a huge obstacle to happiness because a lot of resentment and insecurity is a product of overthinking. Have you ever heard it said that the longer you look in a mirror, the worse you appear. When we overthink, any niggling doubts we may have manifest themselves inside us until we can’t help but think about them, over and over. Try to realise thinking about something (What did he/she mean by that comment? Why did that happen? What will people think of this?) won’t make any difference. Nine times out of ten, it won't be worth the space it takes up in your head.
It can lead to resentment in that the more we read into things, the more we pick out the negatives. I think that the reason people get so het-up about the latest popular book/film/song is because they concentrate so hard on it they begin to pick out every imperfection and magnify it (and, perhaps, because they regret not writing/starring in/singing it themselves. They get wrapped up in the meaning if it all, the message ... not everything has to carry a deep, meaningful subtext. Some things, you just have to take as they are.
All this overthinking leads people to hate, which is possibly the biggest obstacle to happiness of all.
2) DON’T HATE.
There seems to be a culture at the moment where it’s “cool” to hate certain things. This baffles me. Apparently as someone who loves Harry Potter I’m supposed to hate its rivals? Every few years, a new musician to hate comes around. It used to be Jedward, then Justin Bieber, now I think One Direction or Nikki Minaj may have taken the top spot. It seems to me that there’s a lot of hate going round for no particular reason. Even if you do feel you have a reason to hate a certain public figure, what good is it going to do? Next time you post hate on Facebook about Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or Stephenie Meyer (to name but a few from my own newsfeed), or moan about them to your friends, remember that they’ll be too busy spending their squillions and communicating with their army of adoring fans to care about what’s being said. So all that hate’s really just zapping away your happiness and achieving nothing. Instead, concentrate on making your own squillions and building your own army. Surely that’s a more worthy use of your time?
(Please note that giving an opinion and hating are two very different things, for example I read a blog recently where a writer stated they didn’t like a band because their songs didn’t have meaning. This is an opinion. I then saw something on Facebook about how anyone who likes a certain book is stupid. This is hate. One of these people will sleep well tonight, the other probably won’t. I think once we become aware of that difference, the world will be a much happier place.)
What about hating someone you actually know? This can be more difficult to overcome. If they’ve done something bad enough to make you hate them, they’re not worthy of your time and would probably feel quite smug to know that they’re an obstacle to your happiness. If they haven’t done anything... well, why do you hate them? You can’t get on with everyone, but there’s no need to hate. If you really can’t stand a person, for one, several or no reasons at all, just try to be around them as little as possible. Think of the reasons they get to you... do they really matter? Is there any way to turn them into positives?
When you hate, the only victim is you.
I’ll leave you with these two for today as it’s getting rather long, and please do post comments/ email me. I’m always a bit wary of putting up opinion pieces or giving advice because I know I won’t always be right... and that scares me a little. So let me know either way: if you like what I write, I’ll be delighted to hear from you. If you don’t, please tell me why so I don’t make the same mistake twice!
Oh and remember, I’m still looking for submissions about what the little things that make you happy. I’ll be putting them all together in my last post on this theme. What's that address again?? firstname.lastname@example.org