What it really means to “Do what makes you happy”

We have all heard that phrase at one time or the other, “Do what makes you happy” but what does it really mean and is it possible to live purposefully if we always do what makes us happy?

I have always struggled with these words, I am a classic overthinker and instead of just accepting words for what they are, I always tend to over study and overanalyse everything. This has its advantages and has served me well many times and has been useful in helping me grow as an individual. However, sometimes it leads me to decision paralysis as i spend too much time in the thinking zone and not enough in the doing zone.

When it comes to these words though, i am glad that I did spend time analysing and thinking about how this fits in with the notion of being the best version of ourselves. After all, if we always do what makes us happy, we could end up making bad choices or hurting people. E.g. being selfish and ignoring others needs, eating or drinking too much because it feels good at the time, not taking the time to exercise because it’s too hard and we would rather chill out and watch movies instead, having an extramarital affair etc., you get the gist.

The reality is we cannot always do what makes us happy because happiness in itself is a transient and fickle emotion. I have talked about this in many of my blogs and it is also the foundation of my first book “Screaming helps” which focuses on helping us find contentment as opposed to happiness because I see contentment as a more stable emotion.

What we need to understand is that doing what makes you happy so that you can become your better self does not mean being selfish, hurting others or being reckless. It means having the courage to step out and do something different because you would like the experience. It means being authentic and having the courage to be yourself.

It means not being shackled by societal norms to fit specific stereotypes of what is normal or what is expected. If you can safely say, doing what makes you happy will not hurt anyone and will not impact on your own long term happiness or sabotage your efforts at becoming better. So for example, overeating or bingeing might feel good at the point in time when you are doing it but with experience you realise that you usually end up with regret the next day and other negative emotions such as a sense of disappointment in yourself, guilt and perhaps shame. This shows you that even though overeating may have felt good for all of 30 mins when you were doing it, it does not make you happy in the long run. The short term thrill does not outweigh the negative emotions it brings.

So where does this leave you? you learn how to do many things that will enable you to exist in your authentic self such as;

Learning to say no and not feel guilty about it.

Learning to do more of the things that make you happy.

Learning to say no to toxic people, drama and any all round sh*t that doesn’t serve you.

This will bring you total freedom to be yourself and to truly be able to do more of what makes you happy.

Tayo xoxo

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Embrace the ordinary!

Have you ever asked yourself or someone else that well-known but dreaded question? “Why am I here?”. Here of course, being planet earth that we all reside on. It is a question I have asked myself more often as I get older. What is my purpose in life? Why am I not doing more with my life? What should I have done that I haven’t done? and so on. Of course, these are not easy questions to answer, that is, if there is even an appropriate answer for such questions. Surely, the answer to these questions will differ from one person to another.

Life can sometimes seem so humdrum and mundane that we question what we are doing wrong. We wonder why our life is not more exciting and full of adventure. For the majority of us, we wake up most mornings and go through the same lame stuff we did the day before and the day before that. Most of the time, we plod on without really questioning things but once in a while we start to wonder what happened to all of those amazing plans we had of what our life would look like.

The thing is we all start with an expectation of what we expect our lives to be and for virtually everyone, we want our lives to be amazing, exciting, full of adventure and promise. I am yet to meet someone whose plan was for their life to be one long slog of responsibilities and paying bills. This makes it obvious that even before we started we had already built in expectations that were perhaps a little bit lofty, perhaps overly optimistic and of course when our expectations are unrealistic then inevitably, disappointment is not far off.

If we expected that our life would be built up of major achievements that are noteworthy and impressive and that doesn’t happen we start to question what went wrong. We look around at others, and measure ourselves against them and of course we will probably have reason to feel somehow that we have failed somehow especially if the people with whom we compare ourselves seem to have done better than us in some way.

Why do we forget that not everyone can be a high flier, high achiever or even in the simplest forms, not everyone will get married, have children, buy “that” house or fly first class!. For most of us life is going to be pretty ordinary, no guts, no glory. Just getting through the regular everyday stuff and trying our best to do that as best as we can. We have to accept that ordinary is okay and actually it can be better than okay and does not mean your life cannot be full and happy. Instead we can start to think more about the ordinary or not so ordinary things that we would want to achieve in life and perhaps set small achievable goals for ourselves so that once in a while we punctuate the mundane with a bit of excitement. The funny thing about this is that when we are able to do that, we are so much more appreciative of what we have and feel even more grateful to be able to have the extra.

So perhaps we will never write that book we that dreamed about writing or maybe we will and maybe we will never visit Rome or maybe we will, we may never go trekking in India, then again we just might. whatever the case, let us learn how to be happy even in the small things, let us find a way to be grateful that we are even alive and able to dream and plan how we can do something different in our lives. Let us be grateful for the opportunities that we have had that others never got. Let us also be happy for those who do those extraordinary things we may dream of, they make it clear that our dreams are possible.

Also don’t forget that most of the things people reckon will make them happy really doesn’t and sometimes the happiest moments will come from the very normal stuff that we experience in our everyday lives. So, embrace the ordinariness of your life and make it work for you. Remember you don’t have to fit anybody’s idea of great to be happy. Find what makes you happy and stick with that.