The second article in the series of What Makes a Teenager Happy is by Brenna Lewis. She highlights being authentic and developing self-worth.
Happiness is a mysterious thing. Some say happiness must be fostered, manufactured. Others say happiness is just that, happiness and cannot be chosen. In today’s modern times we seem to read more articles about what will make us happy or give us a better marriage. However, these articles are only a strong band aid to whatever problem one may have. It has been stated by sources such as The Independent, that reading books and articles that are said to help with one’s problems could hurt more than they help. Many people who spend money on expensive books about what will make them happy in five days should instead spend money on what they know will bring them joy.
People often talk about what they don’t have but seldom look at what they do have. It is wise to remember that one can have wonderful things and still be unhappy. Happiness is a state that will take effort to achieve. In an article written by Ruby Wax, she talks about being real to yourself. Being true to or real to ourselves means that we are aware of what does and doesn’t make us happy and are willing to live in accordance with our own values rather than those of others. For example: You may be in a job you hate, yet you pretend to everyone else you love it and are create this fake persona that’s not really you.
Another thing we need to look at are our insecurities and how they can hinder us. Now sure, we could all lose 5 pounds or more, but when we are 80 and wrinkly all over, we may look back and think we didn’t look that bad after all.
People do not need beauty to be happy. Beauty is an external factor. Happiness does not depend on external circumstances. Sure it is a factor, but in many studies it’s been shown that it is how one responds to circumstances that will influence their level of happiness. There is a phenomenon called the Hedonic Treadmill theory, the hedonic treadmill theory suggests after an external event which induces high levels of happiness we soon revert back to normal levels. For example, if someone gets a breast job at first they are very happy about their new breasts but as time goes by their level of happiness goes back to normal.
This also strongly supports theories that suggest it is not what happens that determines happiness, rather it is how you are. Therefore instead of getting new breasts I would suggest working on your confidence.
Some may give confidence a bad rep by associating it with false presence, this is in fact in inaccurate interpretation of confidence. The Oxford Dictionary definition of confidence is, A feeling of self assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities of qualities. It is always good to remember that confidence is NOT walking into a room and thinking you are better than everyone else; it’s walking into a room and not caring about what those people think, because you know your self-worth.
Many say that money cannot lead to happiness, and, to a certain extent, they are correct. Money is an external source. The things money can lead to are a better standard of living, trips, security and more. Even though money doesn’t give you happiness what you can do with money might. For example if you have money to spare you can donate to charitable causes. Both Forbes Magazine and the blog Goodfeed refer to this, that is, generosity leading to happiness. Though studies show that an increase in money may lead to short term happiness, this is proven to be simply untrue. Mike Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School states that when a person spends money on the right things, they might be happier. He advises we buy experiences rather than things. For example, spend money on a trip to India instead of a new Porsche. The new Porsche may be cool but you will forever remember the trip to India and brag about it for all time.
Also remember that someone can be happy in hell and miserable in paradise! Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says that we vastly underestimate the power we have over our happiness. Here is an ordinary example. You may say you look terrible in a swimsuit and feel unhappy and insecure, but if you change that inner voice and say actually I look pretty damn good then you’ll more likely feel pretty damn good.
In the light of the aforementioned points, some of the more important elements are, we can never have too much confidence. Another is how much control we have over our own happiness, never underestimate that. If we tell ourselves we won’t have fun then we likely won’t enjoy ourselves.
One thing that many researchers and commentators such as Mike Norton or Ruby Wax say is to know what makes us happy and not to lie to ourselves. Going to the club and raising the roof yet feeling quietly miserable because in reality we would rather be in bed drinking a hot chocolate reading The Twilight Saga, exemplifies the point of the importance of being authentic. This is important when learning to be happy. It is not to say that we’ll always get to do the things we want, that would be unrealistic. The main point is, let’s not lie to ourselves and pretend something brings us happiness when it doesn’t, because we’ll only be hurting ourselves.
Photo by Agnes Liinnea. Sweden
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