The TRUE meaning of happiness
To me, though, the real meaning of happiness runs a whole lot deeper. And if there ever was a definition of the word that captures the true essence of happiness, it would have to be the one below, which I found via a Facebook page a couple of days ago:
"Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is."
The first part of that sentence -- "what you think your life is supposed to look like" -- is simply another way of saying "social pressure."
Many of us think that if we don't live up to societal expectations -- getting married, buying a house, having kids, landing a high-powered job -- we've failed ourselves and our loved ones.
We're constantly comparing ourselves to friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers, sometimes trying to emulate their lifestyle just so that we can fit in.
But succumbing to this kind of pressure is a surefire recipe for unhappiness. Compromising your beliefs and values to appease others will only leave you bitter and dissatisfied with your life. Turning your back on the things you love only because others may take exception to them is essentially living on others' terms rather than your own.
Think of it this way: The people who are pressuring you to live or act like them probably don't pay your bills. Chances are they haven't always been there for you when you've needed them. Most likely, they haven't always volunteered to give you a ride, lend you money, or watch your kid. And when you're in your deathbed, they may not be there with you either!
I don't mean to get so morbid. My point is that while people may mean well in giving us advice, they have no right to pressure us into changing, because at the end of the day, the only one whose got your back is YOU, and you should live life the way you feel like it.
As I've stressed in prior posts, people become a little uneasy when someone in the group is a little different -- they don't drink, they're not married, they're a liberal, etc. So what do they do? They attempt to change the individual because doing so validates their own decisions in life. If something is unfamiliar, most people tend to shun it.
Rather than yielding to them, I would urge a person to stick to their guns. If you're happy the way you are, then they're just going to have to live with it. Who said that a person has to take the most conventional approach in everything to be happy? What works for you may not work for someone else and vice-versa.
Embracing your uniqueness -- celebrating all that makes you YOU -- can go a long way toward finding the happiness you seek in life. Don't try to mimic others. They have their own lives to worry about. Do what makes you happy!