In the modern age we are constantly bombarded with images and promises of the “perfect life”. Social media shows us profiles of people who seem to constantly have it all together, while companies advertise products to us promising that they will make us happier. When this surrounds us at all times, it is hard to remind ourselves that it’s an illusion. We see only the highlight reels of other people’s lives. It is only natural for us to begin comparing ourselves and our lives to those that we see on the internet, which can lead to deep feelings of unhappiness.
Human emotions are ever-changing. Nobody constantly feels good, but we don’t have to feel perpetually negative either. Ask yourself – do you feel good? Is that a question that you can genuinely answer yes or no to? Feeling good is about finding balance and cultivating the ability to handle and appreciate the inevitable ups and downs of life. It is unrealistic to expect ourselves to always be satisfied.
If your answer to that question is no, which for many of us it will be, begin by taking stock. Often unhappiness comes from a place of lack – we focus on what we do not have and what we covet rather than the things that we do have that make us happy. A wonderful place to begin the journey towards feeling good is consciously practising gratitude. When we recognize all of the positive things that we have in our lives it helps to eliminate the lack mindset, helping us to focus on the positive. Try taking five minutes out of your morning or evening to write in a gratitude journal or meditate on the things that you’re grateful for. Choose at least five, and try to make them different each day.
Of course, feeling good is not that simple. There are many factors that can inhibit us from truly being content. Whether it’s a particularly stressful time or you’re dealing with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, there is no quick fix to troubled times. Feeling good, however, is not about a state of constant happiness. If we expect ourselves to maintain happiness consistently we put pressure on ourselves to reach an unrealistic standard, which is more likely to drive us to be discontent. The goal is contentment rather than happiness. Being consistently content with your life can underlie even the hardest of times – content does not mean euphoric, but rather okay. It is the knowledge that no matter what, you will be fine. It is knowing that despite whatever you may be going through, there are always parts of your life to be grateful for. It takes conscious effort to cultivate this feeling of contentment, but once you’re able to recognize the beautiful aspects of human existence even in the darkest of times it becomes easier to find what is called a “euthymic” state of relative tranquillity. Emotional fluctuations can even be appreciated as beautiful – what a gift it is to be able to feel so deeply.
“There is no greater calamity than not knowing what is enough, no greater curse than covetousness, no greater tragedy than discontentment; and the worst of all faults is wanting more – always. Contentment alone is enough. Indeed, the bliss of eternity can be found in your contentment.” Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching.Fit50 Survey