Beware: this post is kind of self help-ish.
It was a long journey to get where I am right now. Oh, goodness gracious, I am already sounding like a self-help asshole. Strap on your boots because we are going to tackle this, bitch. We are going to talk about happiness.
I think I’m finally happy and I’m terrified of it. I’m genuinely surprised this is achievable, and it doesn’t come from a “lack of problems” or words of affirmation you wrote on your mirror (which never worked for me). Or the “fake it until you make it” attitude, which never felt genuine to me. It felt like I was bullshitting myself all along just trying to make me feel better instead of fundamentally changing what was going on.
I don’t know how I got here exactly. It’s probably a mix of shitty life situations, podcasts, and probably a couple of books. I also went through a self-help seminar, but that’s a story for another day.
It’s really hard to narrow down the exact same formula… but here are the principles that are working for me right now.
There is one universal truth: we are going to die.
Facing my own mortality. What was the thing I feared the most? Dying. So, what can be scarier than death? Not much.
When I finally grasped the concept that I was here for a limited time, my values and what was truly important to me changed drastically.
I pictured my funeral and I just saw 20 people showing up. This fact frustrated me immensely because it meant I died and made zero impact in this world. No one would’ve remembered except my family and friends because I was too scared to make a bigger impact in life due to my insecurities and caring too much about other people’s opinions.
I don’t want to die tomorrow knowing I half-assed half of my life and that I lost thousands of possibilities and opportunities because I was scared, embarrassed, shy, or whatever. If I die, I at least want to know I left some sort of legacy behind.
That’s the purpose I found to this thing called life: legacy. Something that can live past me, a record of me being on this planet, and not just simply passing through.
The 20% rule
I’ve created this new rule in my life, which isn’t strict and might change with time.
Only 20% of the things in my life truly matter. Things that I do give a fuck about: loved ones, health, and my career.
The remaining 80% doesn’t really matter. Not that it doesn’t matter in the aspect of being oblivious about what’s surrounding me or what’s happening in my life, it doesn’t matter in the sense that I don’t have to worry about this 80% because it mainly includes things that have a solution so, why worry? And if it doesn’t have a solution, why worry?
The remaining 80% are things you have to go through because you have to. So, why stress about it? It doesn’t really matter.
Most aspects of my life boiled down to confidence or lack thereof. Most of the things I did or stopped doing narrowed down to the fact if I deemed myself incapable or unworthy.
Life is based on trial and error, and I was terrified of error. I couldn’t fathom failure. I didn’t want to go through the uncomfortable process of dealing with the fact that you sometimes suck and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it–might as well embrace it.
I am bound to fail at any moment and I’ve made peace with it.
I also began to build trust in myself. I now trust that I am capable of overcoming anything.
Minimalism has taught me a lot this past year. One of those being the high value I put onto material things and it taught me to let go of it. I was putting too much value on inanimate objects.
I’ve gone through repeated cycles of wanting to have more and more and when I finally owned what I wanted… nothing changed, I still felt miserable, and the cycle began again.
Things are just that: things. It didn’t add value to my life, they didn’t change me as a person, I never became “cooler” or “prettier,” I was still me. It never brought me more than momentary joy.
Greed and consumer behavior defined the way I acted for so long. I was constantly comparing myself to others, seeing what they had, what I didn’t have, looking to get those things to finally become the person I was “supposed to be.” Again, it never made me feel any better.
Now, that I’ve introduced minimalism into my life and that I’ve changed the relationship I have with material stuff–I feel joyful. I feel that as long as my needs are met, nothing else matters.
I stopped caring if I had “it” and now I’ve stopped caring if others have it too.
The only thing that matters is what you think. It’s the only thing I truly have control over and the one that’s capable of bringing me joy or despair.
I started listening to my inner conversations. I noticed how toxic I was being to myself, how derogatory, how insulting… I was horrible. I wouldn’t in a million years talk to a friend like that so, why talk to myself like that?
The way I valued myself was completely off. I was basing my worth on the superfluous: was I pretty enough? Will guys like me this way? If I lose more weight… If I had x or y everything would finally fall into place. NEWSFLASH: I’m the only one capable of letting things “fall into place” not external factors, and that includes people.
“We are crippled by people’s opinions,” said Gary Vee while I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. It struck a chord. I’ve stopped myself from a lot of things just because I was too afraid of what people might think. I was giving them too much power, and I let it control me.
People will always have something to say. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
I choose myself first. I’m done sacrificing for people’s pleasure and approval. It doesn’t matter what they think, it’s virtually impossible to be liked by everyone so, I stopped giving a fuck.
Ahhh… The freedom to not give a fuck.
You always have a choice. Yes, sometimes circumstances come to you, but you have the choice to react however you want to and confront them however you want.
I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and just confronted them. I became responsible for everything in my life. I am responsible for the way I react to my problems… No one else is at fault, I am the one who decides that or if I’m going to feel petty that day, miserable, angry, or just neutral. I am the one who determines how the problem is going to affect me.
All these practices are what have made me a happier person.
Happiness, to me, is not about feeling euphoric or joyful 100% of the time. It’s about feeling content and gratitude towards life. Because let’s face it: life sucks and finding true happiness is not about shoving down your feelings and pretending everything’s ok. To me, it’s about knowing I’m capable of confronting any situation that comes my way, about letting go and cultivating inner peace.
I am terrified I can lose this feeling. But what’s the worst that could happen? Die. Probably.