In pursuit of a lucky star, we often confuse directions and fear steep turns. We are too engaged in unloved work. We dream of a weekend, but we spend our free time stupidly going back to our everyday circle. You cannot go with the flow – enduring a state of being unloved, hating the place where you live and finding reasons to change nothing. It is easy to only talk about change! How do you equip your ship on a journey for happiness and deploy the sail to catch the wind of transition? The answer is well-known to psychologists and people who live in harmony with themselves.
Look at the root
The word “happiness” in each country is understood differently. In Russian, it translates into the best part. In German, happiness (glück) involves the element of luck. Temperamental Spaniards and Italians use the word felicidad and felicità, respectively, to express the state of supreme pleasure. Latin offers beatitudinem or fortuna in this case to express the fortune and beauty of happiness. The French, with Bonheur, translates as the “good hour”, as the predictive chance of falling into bliss (incidentally, from the Latin cadere, meaning to “fall”, as if it fell into your hands). A Russian would say “fell to the lot”, giving the phrase a slightly different meaning.
So, what is it? Case, fate or an enviable condition? With the fact that there are absolutely happy people in the world, it is worth investigating.
Recognise the lucky one
A positive personality looks like a black sheep against the background of a grumbling crowd. It is difficult to learn for ourselves and, sometimes, we tend to admonish such people for their exaltation or eccentricity. Maybe, it is simply envy. Scientists believe that happiness is the result of choice. Emotional well-being depends little on external circumstances. Simply stated, sunny people, whatever happens, prefer the bright side of events. They often:
- are generous with good deeds and compliments (the ability to do good helps them to improve their own indicators of well-being).
- recognise that there are ups and downs, but, thanks to the ability to focus on the good, have a strong immunity to negative events.
- thank fate for the little joys.
- live in the here and now.
- know how to be friends, to love and to rejoice at others’ successes.
- attract, almost exclusively, optimists to themselves because they enjoy the pleasure of those around them.
- smiling in life and in photos.
Money is not the main thing
The lucky ones are not obsessed with money. This is the right way to think! A person will get used to anything, and money is no exception. An example of this is lottery winners. When recognition is attached to wealth, success or beauty, the burden is often too heavy (just remember the stories of Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston and Princess Diana).
Most things that really matter are not ‘buyable’. Friendship, health and character are not sold. The rich are not immune to needing these attributes and, experiencing more respect for having money than the qualities that allowed them to amass their fortune, they wander down an empty street of recognition because ‘you can’t take it with you! Money is, often, more likely a way to reduce the likelihood of financial straits or an opportunity to solve problems faster, but nothing more than this. So, why do people postpone the joy of life in anticipation of the nth sum?
Who has it the hardest?
At the stage from twenty to thirty-years-old, the easiest path is to get involved in the ‘postpone’ game. So says Meg Jay, an American psychologist and author of the best-selling book ‘Important Years’. Many believe that these individuals of the 21st century have inherited a world more difficult to live in than the one that their parents grew up in. The convictions of past generations (study, work hard, start a family early and, in the end, be content with dullness and emptiness) do not apply anymore. Instead, the journey is uncharted and, in spite of a sea of possibilities, it can seem impossible to realise them.
In the midst of trials, errors and the search for oneself, a person may walk in a circle and fail to live life to the fullest, merely scribbling a draft for progress impulsively. There is little time for properly re-writing the tabula and this can lead to an unsatisfactory life journey.
Parents, choosing education for their children, put their future on like a coat. The children often suffer in these tight clothes and we try not to notice how awkward they may look until, finally, we get used to it. What remains? They strain in their efforts, but we are committed to squeezing the youthful potential out of them to the maximum, waiting for the “x” hour when they can start the countdown to a new life.
Working as a pizza delivery man, porter or courier when university is done can be degrading. Still, ambition must be connected to a desire for attaining success in a chosen field (chosen by the individual, not the parents!). If there is little desire to “practice” a profession, the path to menial jobs may already be paved and, with a risk of being physically tired, being lost as a person and not giving yourself the marching orders for change as you ‘go through the motions’ of employment, it becomes more and more difficult to imagine setting high goals and achieving real results that would increase your self-esteem significantly. According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at the University of Carleton, “success in achieving goals makes us happier and more satisfied with life. At the same time, positive emotions motivate purposeful behaviour and volitional processes that push us forward.”
In an effort to accumulate experience, remaining an eternal student is a path to a dead end. Do not be afraid, today, to make decisions and to shoulder the burden of obligations.
The eight stages of Eric Erikson
For Erik Homburger, the quest to find himself began with a desire to become an artist. Studying, wandering, poverty and a torment of creativity defined him. At the age of 25, he returned to Germany, teaching art and devoting himself to family. It would seem that he was just like everyone else, but, at the age of 34, he passionately disowned this life of mediocrity. What happened? Among his students was Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna. Anna’s stories about psychoanalysis, supported by hypnosis sessions, turned the life of the art teacher upside down.
Today, Homburger is simply known as Erik Erikson (a pseudonym, literally meaning ‘son of Erik, which is himself), a world-famous psychoanalyst, author of popular psychology books and a Pulitzer Prize winner for the bestseller “Gandhi’s Truth”.
He not only experienced a crisis, but also invested in the future. He developed, worked, studied and met with interesting people and, when he finally understood what he wanted, he was internally prepared for global-like changes. The road map of a happy life, according to Erikson, is laid out by the experience of a person who has achieved a result; a success that can be trusted and built upon.
The first five stages of Erikson’s model concern children and parents. The rest are for those who, now, walk through life on their own.
- A portion of happiness comes from mom and dad. Kisses and lullabies help the baby to feel comfortable from the first minutes of life. Under the onslaught of love, worries and nightmares will bypass “the cradle”.
- As children approach three years of age, there is happiness when they can declare, “I am myself!” There is less prohibitions, with active attempts to make themselves and only third-party security controls. An unsure person cannot grow up happy!
- The next three years are a challenging time when enterprise and guilt reign. Children’s questions should not remain unanswered! Long live fantasy, initiative and the beginnings of a sense of collectivism.
- In the school years, it is impossible to teach everything, but choosing correctly is possible and necessary. Making this stage wonderful is imperative! We must exclude the growth of an inferiority complex. Praise is irreplaceable and valuable. The question: “Will I be able?” must result in a positive answer.
- In youth, the person is not an adult, but not a child either. Parents and teachers may be seen as “enemies” for some and “idols” for others. The struggle is for independence and sexual maturation. There may be submissions, super-protests and issues with self-esteem. Is it possible to understand, in this whole mess, who are you and where are you going? Is it possible to be grateful? Attention to the task is necessary because there is serious work ahead!
- Youth leading to maturity, with a drive for self-determination and the choice of a life partner. Do not be afraid to look for success, feel “the bumps” and look again. Try to find the good over the course of many years.
- It is time for creative self-realisation and, perhaps, a middle-age “crisis”. You will be able to unleash your own potential at this stage and your ‘crisis’ will have nothing to cling to if you are focused and self-determined.
- Maturity. Summing up your life and facing the inability to change something. “Did I live as I wanted and what is the point in all this?” If you can survive the grey hair and the earlier crises were overcome, you will meet with a noble old age. Maintain your relationships and continue to set goals, finding greater meaning in the details of life.
Time to act
Our contemporary career consultant, Elena Rezanova, is the author of the best-selling book “Never Ever: How to Break the Impasse and Find Yourself”. This book helps you to analyse your own experiences and gives practical advice on the implementation of the programme of happiness.
At liberty from a professional tunnel
Raise your head from your papers and take a look around. Imagine that you are a world or a corporation and not in your position on a spinning chair. If you look at the world through a quarterly report rolled up tightly in a pipe, you miss out on the tempting opportunities…and they are abundant! Do you not believe it? Get into the habit of browsing the “reports from the field” in areas of interest to you. Read books or attend lectures and master classes. Fresh thoughts will come plentifully and the answer to the question “What to do next?” will be answered.
Take control, leave the “corporate prison” or accept that it suits you. If you choose the latter, then do not whine! In any case, the key is in your hands. For clarity, put it in your pocket (any model will be suitable as a mock-up) and, in moments of “spiritual adversity”, remember that you can always open the cage and let yourself out.
Do not be afraid of uncertainty
Stability does not exist because no one, anywhere, ever gives 100% guarantees. The company may fall into bankruptcy, your position may be given to a favourite of the president of the corporation or, maybe, your insurance will not cover the costs of your treatment. Imaginary stability in a career is like living with an untrustworthy alcoholic. Change is always a breath of fresh air. Remember that, on this road of life, behind every turn, there are new discoveries and opportunities.
Long live vanity!
In childhood, some people wanted to become a queen, an actress or a president. Why is it so sad now? Dream of great things, do not waste time on trifles and live by your own rules! The world waited for your deeds and actions, but you decided to give in. Do you think modesty decorates life? Up to certain limits, it may, but ambition and self-belief are provocative. In the end, Mother Teresa also had ambitions. Otherwise, she would not have become who she was. Take in your team of loved ones, customers and friends and finally begin winning! The main thing is to not postpone life for later. You will be happy and you know it!