How to be happy in a world of suffering

by Martijn
How to be happy in a world of suffering

What you will find in this article

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Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, the reality is that the world for most people is one of suffering. I’ve had some great moments in life, I’ve traveled the world as an Olympian athlete, I met great people from every corner of the planet, my beautiful trip to Bali comes to mind as well, and I can’t help but remember some amazing moments with several ex-girlfriends. And for the past few years, my friendship with my best friend has left me with a few unforgettable memories. But the times of suffering still far outway those beautiful moments. And it’s safe to say that for most of you it’s the same.

So, when our lives are nothing but a continuous chain of unfortunate events, every now and then brightened up by a bright moment of joy and happiness, how can we be happy in a world of suffering?

How to be happy in a world of suffering

The key to being happy in a world of suffering is in your mind. When you train yourself to perceive life differently and create healthy mental habits you can start to experience happiness more often. Even in moments of grief and despair. I’ve found that these 6 things will help you to be happy in life, no matter what the circumstances.

  1. Know that everything is temporary
  2. Live without expectations
  3. Learn how to detach from what you love to live in the now
  4. Take alone-time daily
  5. Connect with nature as often as you can
  6. Know you will be alright in the end

You’ve most likely already heard of these things before. But not many people know how to go about changing their minds to achieve this mindset so they can be happy much more often. So, let’s have a look at each of them and see how you too can change your mind about the world.

Know that everything is temporary

As sad as it might be sometimes, in this world of time, where everything has a beginning and an end. Everything is temporary. Everything you can see is subject to change. But not only the things you can see. Also, the things you think and feel will change over time. Nothing that can be measured in time in one way or another will cease to exist sooner or later.

This goes against the human behavior of wanting to preserve, especially, the good things. You try to stay in a relationship that doesn’t work anymore. Things change at work, people come and go, but you are scared to take the leap and make a change for yourself as well. And your body starts to decay at some point. And causes you suffering and sadness, thinking about better times when you were still fit and vital.

But nobody can escape the test of time. And you better get used to it. Seek to be happy with what you have right now, enjoy it without any restrictions. Because tomorrow it might be gone. You will be much happier when you are capable of letting go of what time will change for you anyway.

Live without expectations

Life can change at any given moment. And it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. Often you have so many plans and ideas for the future. Some will work out similar to how you saw it in your mind. Most will not.

When I was at the start of my career as a professional volleyball player in my late teens and early twenties I had big plans, I visualized myself every day winning cups, leagues, and other prizes. I did win a few but even those moments were very different from what I had imagined.

I had many expectations, how I would end up playing in Italy. Having a family, and making a very good living doing what I love, and being one of the best players in the world. Just to have all of that change within just a few years. An injury and loss of confidence changed everything and forced me to let go of expectations.

That taught me it’s great to have dreams and work hard to accomplish them. But once you get attached to those dreams, to those expectations, they become a heavy weight on your shoulders. So, dream, yes, dream big. Why not? But don’t have any expectations. Don’t attach your happiness to the fulfillment of those dreams. Be happy now, not in the future.

Learn how to detach from what you love to live in the now

You have to learn to detach from what you love. Sooner or later you will lose it. Whether it’s an object or a person in your life. And even when the person never leaves your life, relationships change, they never stay the same. They evolve as new events in both of your lives take place.

Most people do the exact opposite, they attach to what they love. Which makes them live either in the past or the future all the time. But when you detach your happiness from what you love you free yourself to live in the now. Be happy now with what you have now. Not tomorrow, not in a month from now, and certainly not yesterday.

Now is the only moment you have. And if you attach to the now, it becomes the past immediately. So, become an experiencer of life and be open to what might occur. And be open to being happy with something unexpected. The fact that it’s not how you imagined it in your mind, doesn’t mean you cannot be happy with it.

Take alone-time daily

I’ve found that to stay in the right mindset, it’s very important to take some alone-time every single day without exception. Especially in the world we live in today, where the media and social media are bombarding us with thoughts, ideas, and convictions that are not ours. It’s very easy to be brainwashed and to become a mindless follower, instead of being a critical thinker with a silent mind capable of rational thinking and common sense.

So, take that alone-time daily. Disconnect from the internet, be with yourself for a while. No requests from the outside world, no obligations, no things to do, nothing. Just you, time, and the experience of being.

It doesn’t matter if it’s just for 10 minutes or for a few hours. You will find what works best for you. But take that time for yourself. I like to do this early morning or before bed, which probably are the easiest moments to fit this habit into anyone’s day.

Connect with nature as often as you can

And when I take this alone-time I try to do it as often as I can in nature. We have become so disconnected from the earth. Everything that surrounds us is technology, virtual relationships, virtual money, virtual lives. But we forgot to connect with real life.

So, connect with nature as often as you can. Walk barefoot on the beach, through the shore. Lay down on the grass and watch the clouds go by. Hug a tree, smell some flowers, listen to the birds.

Nature is essential for your happiness and it teaches you to be here, right now. It brings you back to your roots. And allows you to restore the natural energy and balance in your body and mind.

I sincerely don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel happy being in nature. And it doesn’t matter what weather it is. The smallest things can trigger this pleasant feeling of being alive. The ticking of the rain on the window, the first rays of light hitting your face in the morning, the cool summer breeze on a hot summer day. You owe it to yourself to stop and take some time of your day to connect with nature.

Know you will be alright in the end

And then, when you have understood that everything is temporary, you are living without expectations, you’ve detached from what you love, and you are taking time for yourself, connecting with nature often, there is just one more thing to know. You will be alright in the end.

Whatever the hardship you are going through right now, it will pass. Whatever situation you are in. How hopeless it might seem now. It will change. Guaranteed.

You are not your body, you are not your name, you are not the position you occupy at work. You are not even your soul. Those are all temporary things you identify with for a little while.

But what you really are is Spirit. And Spirit does not die. Spirit is eternal and changeless. And this is the real secret to being happy in a world of suffering. When you start to identify with the eternal part of yourself it’s inevitable to bring calm and peace to your restless mind. And it will create a mental environment in which happiness can occur more often, regardless of what is going on in your external world.

So, let’s change this world from within. It’s your perception of who you are that creates how you experience the world. You too can be happy. Because you already are, you just need to become aware of it.

View the video here.

Find more articles about spirituality here, personal development here, and mental health here.

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