I want to talk about the 3 foundations of a happy life, but first let me clear something up. I am tired of apologizing for using biblical quotes and for qualifying everything that even hints at religion with conditions that won’t make people flip out and lose their minds. We have a serious issue in this country right now where people get offended and outright reject anything that they don’t personally believe with. I chose to use a scripture from the bible as the quote for this article, and I am drawing from the bible in this post, not because I intend to preach to you and tell you that you need to accept God as your savior before the devil casts you into hell with a pitchfork.
I am using a biblical quote (and will likely do so in the future) mostly because I feel like this particular quote nails the fundamental ideas that I think are at the core of a happy life. If you spend your life rejecting certain ideas because they come from a certain source, then you will live your life in ignorance. And I am talking to atheists and christians alike. In the future, I may quote something from Buddha. That doesn’t mean I am a Buddhist monk asking you to switch religions. I quote things from all sorts of sources that I’ve read because I want to use it to enhance what I have to say. That being said, let’s begin…I built this website on the idea that happiness, true happiness that arises from within you, is based on certain mindsets that often run in the background of your unconscious mind. Anybody can drum up a happy moment. It’s the reason why people drink, do drugs, and engage in risky sexual behavior. So many people try to medicate themselves, to believe their happiness exists in something external, that they often forget that true happiness springs from within. If you want to live a happy life, then you must find a way to embrace certain beliefs about your circumstances.
In this article I want to address three mindsets that I feel are foundational (i.e. you can’t build happiness for any length of time without them) to a happy life. So, let’s look at those mindsets.
Foundation 1: A Happy Life is Created from the Ability to Imagine Things that Don’t Currently Exist in your Life
The short way of saying that is: a happy person knows how to have faith. I don’t mean “faith” in the religious way (although it’s one of the reasons religious people find happiness). I mean “faith” in the sense that you need to have the ability to imagine new possibilities in your life. If you are unhappy, you’re going to have to do something that you aren’t currently doing. That’s just common sense. You can’t change how you feel by embracing old mindsets. Those mindsets are the reason you feel the way you do in the first place!
No, you need to cultivate more faith in your life. Imagination. An ability to dream up scenarios that can guide your goals. You have to believe that your circumstances are temporary, and that things can and do change over time. Even if you do nothing, this fact about life holds true. Things are going to change whether you want them to or not. You might as well embrace the change and cultivate the imagination necessary to be proactive about how that change occurs for you. A happy life is built on faith, the skill of knowing that everything is going to be okay even when your current circumstances seem to say otherwise.
I call faith a skill because it’s not just a belief you have. It’s a belief you practice. It exists within you and permeates to your core. You practice faith every day. You hold onto the notion that, when things go south, you have the ability to bring yourself back to happiness. Faith is like a compass. When moments of grief hit you, faith is that part of you that tells you you need to adjust something to get back on course.
Foundation 2: A Happy Life is Created from the Ability to Know Things will Turn out Okay
If faith is the compass, hope is an anchor. Faith and hope are very similar in that they both require you to see beyond your current circumstances. Where they differ, however, is in how you do that. Faith is imagination, hope is peace of mind. Faith will get you excited, hope will keep you grounded. It’s a deeply rooted notion that exists in your gut that speaks to you when you have doubts.
One of the biggest causes in suicidal feelings comes from a feeling of hopelessness. People struggle to describe how that happens over time. A bad thing happens…then another one…then another one. They keep happening (like a storm that won’t go away), and it beats against you to the point where you break and give up hope.
I remember this moment in my life. I remember the moment when I was lying in my bed believing that my life was not worth living and that everything was meaningless. A complete loss of hope is one of the most painful things you’ll ever experience in life. Perhaps someone reading this is experiencing that now. You lay in bed day after day wanting to kill yourself but not really wanting to die. It’s excruciating and bleak and it will rip you up from the inside if you allow it to continue.
So, how do you cultivate more hope in your life? The answer isn’t easy. I say you should start looking for the signs that your life has meaning. Your life matters. You feel hopeless because you are focusing on things that are beyond your control (i.e. the environment, the state of the world, politics, etc.). You have to refocus — zoom in on the things that are within your power. Begin to believe that good things CAN happen. They may not be happening right now, but the possibility exists that they will happen in the future.
You must also see the ways good things ARE happening. You have so many things that you take for granted. A place to sleep. A hot meal. A person or animal that loves you. Your life matters to someone. You just can’t see it. Start looking for the ways your life matters, and you will embark on the path that leads you back to a happy life.
Foundation 3: A Happy Life is Created from the Ability to Create and Cultivate Connections with Others
As a fierce proponent of individualism, I’ve always scoffed at this one. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that I don’t hate individual people, but, rather, that I hated large groups of people. My faith in people only exists on an individual basis. One-on-one people can be funny, hilarious, inspiring, etc., but in groups they can go either way.
If you’re introverted or libertarian-minded, you probably have similar thoughts. But just because groups of people get under your skin does not mean that you can never make a connection with people. I find that I thrive in small groups (groups of 3 to 5 people). I prefer situations where I’m with two other people and that neither of those people truly hog the spotlight. A good rapport between three people can literally change the world.
However, the point of this isn’t to discuss whether you like groups of people. It’s to say that each of us craves, at our core, a connection with other human beings. Even if you hide out in your basement all day, every day, there is a part of you that needs to make connections with people or it will mess with your state of mind. It’s important that you find people you care about (and who also care about you).
I understand that this post may reach people who have been routinely abused and/or neglected for most of their lives. Helping you may be beyond the scope of this post, but it’s still important to find ways to overcome that life and set yourself on a path of self love. You can’t truly love another person until you learn to love yourself. We crave love at our core, and the only way to find it is through trial and error. Find community events in your area and go to them. Attend a church. Use resources like meetup.com. Realize that deeper connections take time and that you may not find people you enjoy being around overnight, but if you persist you will eventually find a person (or group of people) who fulfill this basic need for you.