Letters To A Much Younger Me: On Happiness

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Dear 22-year-old self:

Do you know what makes you happy? You’re already pretty sure it’s not money, and you’ll later confirm that.  It’s not popularity or fame, either. As you mature, you’ll come to the realization that happiness is a fundamental and purposeful objective of life.  While that will be an epiphany in and of itself for you, your next question will be: “what makes me happy?”  I’ve given this a lot of thought and believe quite strongly that the five ingredients below are key contributors to happiness.

1. To Love

I know this is going to sound corny, but I’m going to mention it anyway: love is what motivates you and provides you with purpose.  Without love, you’d find it hard to get up in the morning. It’s impossible for you to be happy without having someone (or people) you love deeply.  Love is hard to define, but I try to do so here.  Make sure your love life is always healthy or your happiness will be compromised.

2. To Be Loved

Loving someone isn’t enough; it’s just as critical to your happiness to be loved.  Feeling loved is what fills you with energy and enthusiasm every morning.  You’re happiest when you feel like the people you love love you back in equal proportion.  Feeling unloved is the fastest way to change your state of happiness.  It’s easy to take your most important relationships for granted; don’t.  Nurture your important relationships.

3. To Grow

You need to grow to be happy.  You need to be challenged, to struggle, and to overcome.  If you’re not growing personally and/or professionally, you’ll find yourself in a depressing rut.  Fortunately for you, it’s part of your nature to constantly seek personal development.  The more you’re growing, the happier you’ll be.

4. To Be Valued

You derive so much satisfaction from helping others and from being valued by them.  Being valued by others isn’t as superficial as it sounds: it’s fundamental to your sense of purpose.  It’s a signal you’re impacting those around you; it means you’re making a difference.  Feeling like you’re making a difference in the world is critical to your satisfaction.

5. To Cultivate A Passion

This is the cherry-on-top ingredient.  Having a passion you’re cultivating is how you’re able to go from being happy to being overjoyed with a spring in your step.  It’s OK to spend money here.  It’s OK to make time here.  It’s OK to be a little self-centered here.  Don’t feel guilty about investing in a passion as long as you’re balanced on the other four ingredients.

Sincerely,

Your 42-year-old self.

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