There’s something important I’ve deduced over the last several years while on my travels that I’m eager to share with my readers. Happiness: it’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with and how you see it.Even if this seems like a relatively simple idea, it’s amazing how this concept can completely fly over our heads as we continue to place an enormous emphasis on deriving happiness from our external surroundings. Here’s how you can crack the happiness ‘code’.
A Change of Pace, or Escape? Valuing the Internal over the External
At some point in our lives, many of us start yearning for more and believe we can find it abroad, in the places we’ve yet to search for joy. We choose out of state colleges that take us away from our familiar surroundings and families. We readily transfer to a better, more modern location in our jobs whenever the chance arises. Where does it end – the ever elusive quest for finding the place we truly belong? Is there such a thing as ‘belonging’, and is it even possible in a society that continues to advance at such a rapid pace? It seems no matter where we go, problems arise that make us resentful of our surroundings and eager for a change. But perhaps the answer to happiness isn’t trying to carve out a sense of belonging in our surroundings, but finding a sense of belonging within ourselves.
While the external world is unpredictable and constantly changing, the healthy inner world provides us with refuge from feeling pain due to the things which we cannot control. Finding happiness in your surroundings doesn’t depend on the surroundings themselves and whether they are good or bad. It depends on how you perceive them. The perceptions you have of yourself, your environment and of others is crucial to finding a sense of balance and contentment wherever you are. Do you perceive the world through a negative, pessimistic lens? Do you automatically see or predict the worst in everything around you?
Inner changes produce external results. We’re all capable of projecting our energy out into the Universe in order to reshape our lives. Even if you’re living in a studio apartment and you wish you had a New York City penthouse, changing your perception of your apartment to a more positive one, being grateful for what you have and seeing the beauty in the things that you can will make you as content as someone who does own that penthouse!
The Problem with Traveling and Romanticizing Wanderlust
Wanderlust and the beauty of the unknown is, without a doubt, glamorized in our society. But while travel is enthralling, it also poses a potential problem for those who struggle with escapism and using frequent travel as a means to avoid disappointment, rejection and a lack of purpose. Moving to different places can be exciting. But if you don’t have a healthy inner world, even living in the most beautiful of places won’t cover up your inner dissatisfaction. Eventually, you’ll start hungering for something you can’t find even in the luxuries of your surroundings. Before you know it, you’ll be packing your bags and booking a one-way ticket to your next destination to relive the exhilarating adrenaline rush of being somewhere totally novel, a feeling that’s covering up a much deeper issue: a disconnect with your true Self.
If you struggle with the impulse to move due to finding unhappiness no matter where you go, redefine your goals and decide what it is you’re truly looking for, and if you’re making your surroundings responsible for curing your own sense of discontent. Here’s a fine example: do you remember the story of the Amityville Horror house? Even after the family cursed by the house decided to leave, the spirits of the house followed them! It wasn’t until they cleansed themselves of their ‘demons’, so to speak, that they found peace. Negativity operates quite similarly. If you don’t resolve your inner discontent, it will follow you around like a nagging shadow wherever you go.
Your Relationships with Others (And Yourself) Makes a Difference
On a final note, I mentioned earlier that happiness depends on who you’re with. This doesn’t just include your most personal relationships – it also relates to your relationship with yourself! If you build a healthy relationship with yourself and develop your coping skills, you can thrive even in the most undesirable of circumstances. If you believe that you’re destined for gratifying relationships and feel you deserve the best, you will attract better energy and fantastic people without having to pick up and relocate to make a change. Instead of judging others, set the intention to invite kind people into your life.
The more you wander, the lonelier you will be – as Christopher McCandless once said, “happiness is best when shared”. Cultivating meaningful relationships is guaranteed to make even the darkest of surroundings a little brighter.
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