Cultivating Happiness

Mental health is such a widespread concern in today’s society. Did you know that depression is the most common cause of disability in the United States? It is estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their life. Two of the key characteristics of depression is loss of interest in pleasurable activities and persistent sad mood. I think it’s natural for all of us to go through phases of depressive symptoms at some point, diagnosable or not. I’ve been through my own phases in life where I’ve questioned my own happiness. Through my experience I’ve come to the conclusion that there is one thing in particular that has a huge impact on unhappiness; the loss of passion.

I get the impression that some people think happiness is a personality trait. This person is just happy, that person is just sad, that’s just “how they are” or “this is just how I am”. We are not defined by one emotional state and we have the power to change that emotional state if we want to.

If you are or have found yourself in a state of unhappiness, let me ask you, what are you passionate about in life? What’s your purpose? If you don’t know the answer, your in good company. Many people don’t know this answer. Heck, I’m still in this boat! If you do know the answer, are you pursuing this passion or purpose of yours on a daily basis? See, we get so distracted by trying to fit the mold that society has laid out for us, that we put our personal goals, dreams, passion, purpose on hold. And the longer we do that the unhappier we become. The longer we do this, the more likely we forget what our personal dreams ever were.

That’s okay. But we need to recognize this and decide to put ourselves first. Find your passion. People ask “how?” Go for a walk, read, try new hobbies, travel. Do something. Your passion may not strike overnight but if you are experiencing, and I mean truly experiencing, being mindful, then it will come. If you already know what your passion is, do something every day to work on that. Even if you can’t dedicate all your time to it, wake up earlier, stay up a little later, adjust your schedule, MAKE the time for it. Don’t let others opinions or expectations stop you from pursuing your dream. It is possible.

Happiness is not something people are just blessed with. It is not something that comes to us. We need to practice it by putting ourselves first and practicing our passion. Just start with today. Break out of your mold and cultivate your own happiness.

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