Our daily living can be summarized in a group of routine choices. Your mind is saying go to the gym but your heart is recommending an à la mode chocolate brownie instead. Your alarm goes off in the morning and your mind is telling you get up, but a voice in your mind tells you five more minutes. Our mind is constantly hosting a battle between the things you want versus the things you need. After we figure it out, then we have to deal with the “how can I get it”. During our previous blogs in this series, we discussed the importance of establishing a combination of meaningful activities in form of hobbies and also how our connection with others plays a very important role in our happiness. You can have all the fun in the world and have the people you love around you, yet this will not be enough to be happy. This may be truth for children only, but as we grow the world starts throwing a bunch of expectations and responsibilities at us. We start noticing that at times we need money to have fun and that our problems never stop. So, how can we be happy in a chaotic world?
The third part of the happiness equation is our environment. By definition, environment means the conditions or surroundings in which a living operates. In other words, is everything around our life.
Your kids can be honor role students, your spouse acts like someone injected him/her with 10,000 ml of love in the brain. However, your car doesn’t work, its 105 degrees but your home’s air conditioning broke down and your child was possessed by the spirit of Picasso and started creating a work of art in your living room wall with permanent marker. Furthermore, you don’t have money to pay for any repairs. Will you really be happy at that moment? Of course not!
The environment is the first element that molds our behavior and perception of the world. We live by a Phenomenological Perspective, which means that we will understand the world according to our experiences. For example, many people enjoy Black Friday and have been able to get awesome deals and bought pretty cheap stuff; therefore, they learned to like Black Friday. Others absolutely hate it; they had awful experiences, waited for hours to pay and would rather pay the extra cash to avoid the entire circus. With this in mind, here are two areas in our environment that will directly affect our happiness.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a material world. The material world refers to the physical aspect of living in this world rather than the intellectual or spiritual things. For the most part, money is a fundamental part of the process in acquiring something in the modern world. Although money does not buy happiness, and our focus should not be completely on money. It makes us very happy to get money and even happier to spend it. When we have it in our possession, money can turn into a good or bad thing. In the hands of the right person, money can be a blessing to the person holding it and others, but in the hands of the wrong person money can become a damnation for many. We are most happy when we are comfortable with what we have in our material life. I am not saying that we have to be rich in order to be happy of course. We just have to be content with what we own. For example, you may own an average price purse that is useful and pretty, but you really want a Louis Vuitton. This does not mean that you have to be miserable carrying your things in it because it doesn’t have the LV somewhere in the bag. After all, having more money doesn’t necessarily mean you will have more things. You will have the same stuff but more expensive. In other words, if you learn to be content with what you have now, you will appreciate what you’ll have later.
The basic concept of money and our material world is that we must accept where we stand and where we are going. We can spend a lot of time wanting what we don’t have but we forget to enjoy what we do. In other words, you really don’t need to have those five thousand dollar shoes to walk happy, just enjoy the ones you can afford and make sure they are comfortable.
There is nothing worse than waking up and hating your job every day! It really doesn’t matter what we do for a living as long as we love it. Over the years, I’ve heard people complaining about how miserable they are in their job, how their profession is the most stressful or how they are not happy with their level of education. We simply have to find joy in what we do. For example, there are some housewives that are always upset about the amount of work they need to do around the house. Some become upset because they do not have a payroll job or because they feel they are not doing anything with their lives. On the other hand, there are some that truly enjoy housework and take pride in the things they do.
The same goes for many professionals that dread going to work because of the stress related to it. “I have the children of the corn in my class” or “I have the worse work schedule ever” are things unhappy people would normally say. Every profession, whether it’s a payroll profession or not, will have its pros and cons; therefore, we simply have to accept it. At one point in our life, we decided to dedicate ourselves to that profession but its technicalities get to us. Some years ago, I decided to become a psychotherapist and I really thought I was going to be talking to people all day and dreamed that I would help everyone change and every client would say thanks for your help after every session. Oh I was so wrong!!!! Most of what I do, besides actually talking, is paperwork and some people don’t even want to see me! They go because they have to. I could go on and on about the problems with my profession, but at the end of the day I do enjoy it. Enjoying and embracing our responsibilities will help us set professional roots and grow in our profession.
In general, be happy with what you have, what you do and find meaning in your profession as a whole. If you do not enjoy what you do or what you have, then figure out what you can do to change it. However, if you do not have control over it then accept it.