How well do you really know yourself? Is it possible that you inflict yourself unnecessary suffering by living a life that is misaligned with who you really are? Finding happiness requires that you know yourself well.
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Finding happiness starts by knowing yourself
While we’d like to think we know ourselves, we often miss important pieces of the puzzle. Each individual is different and nobody else can tell us how we should behave, what goal we should pursue or who we should marry. Finding happiness is truly an inside job.
To make it even more difficult, society shapes our expectations and somewhat dictates what we “should” do to be happy. The whole plan seems to be already laid for us.
Do you want to be happy? Go to school, get good grades, find a stable job in a prestigious company and get married. Voila! Now you should be happy. But what if you’re not? What if finding happiness requires that you take a different path?
Or, we’re told that we should party during the weekend. If you don’t, something must be wrong with us. We must be depressed for sure.
I remember one day when I was working at a convenient store in Japan, two colleagues were discussing about marriage and how such and such should hurry up and marry to “become happy” (literally in Japanese). I always found this expression strange. It sounds like a perfect example of social conditioning to me. Is her happiness really depending on whether she gets married or not? Can’t she be happy unless she gets married? Will she be finding happiness once she gets married? I doubt so. (read The Key to Happiness is Ditching “One Day I Will…)
To enjoy yourself more it is essential that you know yourself. What it means concretely is that you must know exactly what matters to you and be aware of your personality traits such as whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Finding happiness start by knowing yourself at a deeper level.
Finding happiness by knowing your core values
What matters the most to you? Is it freedom, passion, connection, family or security?
The important decisions you take in life will be dictated by your core values. If you don’t know your core values, but simply act in accordance with society’s expectation, you’ll end up making the wrong decisions and will struggle to reach deeper levels of fulfillment. You may end up feeling something is not quite right while unable to pinpoint what it is.
For instance, if one of your core values is security, you’ll be happy having a secure 9 to 5 job in a large company. Now, if your most important value is freedom, you’ll be unlikely to find happiness in such an environment.
Similarly, if you value connection and need to be around people most of the time, being a researcher spending his whole day in his laboratory might not be the ideal situation. However, if you enjoy your own company that may actually be quite enjoyable.
I would like to encourage you to spend time to reflect on your core value. For more in-depth explanation check out my article on core value here. It will help you create your list of core values.
Finding happiness by knowing your personality
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you know what that means and what the implications are?
While everybody has a least some vague idea of what introversion and extroversion are, many people don’t understand at a deeper level what the concrete implications are. That’s especially true for introverts who struggle to find their place in a world that, in many regards, seems to have been designed for extroverts.
Introversions and extroversion are important personality traits, but you’ll also find many other personality types. One of the most famous personality test is probably the MBIT which features 12 different types. Make sure you know what your personality type is. It will help you design a life that is aligned with your personality. (you can take a free test here)
I’d like to spend some time discussing about extroversion and introversion as I think it’s an important topic to know about. (For more on introversion read Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Introverts: A Comprehensive Guide)
First, let’s give a clear definition of what introversion and extroversion are. What distinguishes introverts from extroverts is the way they create and consume energy. Extroverts need a lot of stimulation from the outer world. Without it, they start losing energy and begin to feel bored, lonely, or tired.
Introverts need less stimulation from the outer world and time spent in social situations will deplete their energy, forcing them to withdraw and spend time alone in order to rejuvenate themselves.
It’s crucial for introverts to understand that being introverted is NOT the same as being shy. Although there is some correlation between the two, they are two different things. Not all introverts are shy.
Conversely, some extroverts are shy, which can be frustrating. If you’re a shy extrovert, you want to talk but you can’t!
Introverts may make their life harder than it is if they try to behave as extroverts. They may experience shame or guilt for not having a good during parties or struggling to network effectively. They may lose confidence believing that they aren’t interesting. Or they may feel constantly drained if they are forced to spend too much time interaction with other people.
As an introvert, the last thing I want to do is to interact with large group of people all day long. I would rather spend most of my day writing, reading or working on my computer at home (which is exactly what I do now).
If you’re an extrovert, you might crave interaction and be frustrated and unhappy if this fundamental need for human interactions is not properly met.
It is not difficult to imagine then, that certain work environments will be ideal for extroverts, but a nightmare for introverts (and vice-versa). It’s only when you know what your needs are, that you can design a life that is aligned with your true nature.
Though there are a lot more that can be said about our personalities, living a life that is aligned both with our core values and our introversion/extroversion will result in a deeper sense of well-being and should be something to strive for.
Finding happiness – exercise
Finding happiness is an inside job so make the effort to better understand yourself. That way, you’ll be able to design a life that is aligned with who you are.
This week I would like you to do two simple exercises that will help you increase your happiness in the future.
1. Write down 5 core values (check out my article here to help you). Take a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm until you come up with 5 core values that are important to you. You can check my personal list here
2. Identify one thing you could change in your life to increase your well-being as an introvert/extrovert. Write down what is one simple thing that you could do to improve your well-being. It might be something very simple like finding more time throughout the day to recharge your battery.
Bonus: if you haven’t taken it yet, you can take the MBIT test for free here
Don’t forget to check out the previous articles in the How to Be Happy and to do the exercises at your own pace.
Previous articles in the How to Be Happy Series:
- Why Am I Not Happy With My Life? (Part 1)
- How to Combat Anxiety and Eliminate Problems (Part 2)
- What’s Your Personal Definition of Happiness and Success? (Part 3)
- The Psychology Behind Happiness (Part 4)
- The Recipe for Happiness: Making it a priority (Part 5)
- The Key to Happiness is Ditching “One Day I Will…” (Part 6)
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