There are a lot of things in this world that can make most of us pretty darn happy. Simple things like a sunset, an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, or a having a good friend stop by unexpectedly. These can provide us with true happiness and joy.
Happiness is also achieved by having plenty of money to buy what you need and want, having a family to love you and to love them back, and enjoying good health. Yet, there are 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression, with rates expected to rise.
Right now, we are experiencing a global epidemic of unhappiness. While there are tons of experts out there sharing their thoughts and ideas about what we need to be happy, not many people are really talking about things you don’t need. To me, knowing what I need and what I should eliminate are both of equal importance.
So how do you figure out what you don’t actually need to feel and be happy? What exactly do we need to eliminate in our lives to achieve happiness? Here are my favorite top seven.
7 Things You Don’t Really Need To Feel Good About Your Life
1. A Fat Bank Account
While money is definitely a need in this world (as we need money to clothes, feed and shelter ourselves, etc.), there are A LOT of studies out there that show you only need a certain amount to be happy – and it’s not a lot.
In fact, the more money you have, the more problems you may encounter. So while you’re sitting at home feeling like a loser because you haven’t made your first million, remember that happiness exists without money.
Monks and nuns take vows of poverty on purpose, and yet seem so content and serene. They realize as long as their basic needs are met, they have every reason to feel happy. So remember:
A: According to the experts, the benchmark salary for happy living starts at $75,000 a year.
B: If you start feeling down about how “poor” you think you are, go volunteer for a nice dose of reality. I guarantee you will feel happier about your life’s circumstances afterwards.
2. A Large Wardrobe of Clothing
One of the things you don’t need to be happy is a large selection of clothing. If you pulled out your entire wardrobe and put aside the items you actually wore in the last six months, you’d probably find that you only wore a small portion. You might even discover a few items you had completely forgotten about.
While they say that clothes make the man, I think “they” are wrong, or were at least speaking about a different era. Nowadays, the movers and shakers in our world are realizing there are already too many complex decisions for them to make. So why bother wasting time and energy on their wardrobe?
Many have a few items to choose from, or in the case of Steve Jobs, ONE signature look that allows them to focus on what they find important in life. It’s clearly not how they appear to others. Even serious fashionistas don’t need to rival Mariah Carey’s wardrobe to look AND feel their best. So remember:
A: True happiness comes from looking and feeling great inside and out. Try owning 20 pieces that look great on you and are well-made. You’ll save time, energy, and you’ll always feel fabulous.
B: Your wardrobe is like you: ever growing and changing. It should reflect that. So stop holding onto clothing you’ve owned, but haven’t worn forever.
3. Being Perfect All the Time
Whether that means having or living what looks like a perfect past, present, or future, perfection isn’t reality. It’s definitely NOT possible to be perfect all the time. It cannot lead to happiness because it’s an unattainable goal.
Also, the idea of perfection differs from person to person. Unless your aim is to become a Stepford wife (or husband), it’s a futile goal, because humans make mistakes. It’s what we do; our jam, if you will.
We all have things we do well (some more than others), but we also all have lessons to learn, issues we struggle with, and a past that sometimes may not look so pretty to others. That’s okay. It’s what we choose to do in those moments that matters the most.
That means being the best YOU that you can be everyday, even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. So when you forget that perfection is one of the things you don’t need for a happy life, remember that:
A: Perfection is a great way to become stuck and unhappy. So let yourself fail, make mistakes, and then learn from them. You will feel happy and more empowered if you accept yourself as you are, rather than striving for an unattainable goal.
B: Remember to count the little successes as well as the big ones. They’ll help remind you of how great you are, even on those days when you feel you didn’t accomplish as much as you’d hoped.
4. Having Hundreds of “Friends”
While most of us left High School a while ago, it seems the High Schooler in all of us never really left. This is especially true when social media sites like Facebook came along.
Now if you don’t have hundreds or even thousands of “friends” on your social media sites, it feels as though you’re destined to become the lonely spinster living with a disturbingly high number of cats. Have no fear: NO ONE is ever truly happy just because it looks like they have a ton of friends.
Real friends connect with you in person. They can see and connect in a real way with you. Some of the happiest people I know don’t even have social media accounts. It’s just one of those things you don’t need to feel complete.
So on those days you’re feeling suspiciously like a crazy cat lady, remember to:
A: Disconnect from social media every once in awhile. Connect with a friend face-to-face (and I don’t mean using Facetime) instead. Ask someone to lunch, a walk, or a coffee, and see how much happier you feel after experiencing a real connection, where you can actually touch the other person.
B: Choose to surround yourself with people who are kind, loving and supportive of you, your lifestyle, and your ideas. The rest of them will only make you feel unhappy and judged. They aren’t worthy of your time or your consideration.
5. The Perfect Family
Even the Brady Bunch had problems. In real life, Greg dated Mrs. Brady and Mr. Brady preferred men. No one’s family is perfect. NO ONE. So thinking that life will be so much better if your family were perfect, is a waste of time and energy.
We can’t choose our families. And we can’t control how they act or think. But that doesn’t mean our family is a true reflection of who we are as an individual. Some families are happier and more well-adjusted; while others may be so toxic that you may have to physically leave and create your own to be happy.
A perfect family is one of the things you don’t need to be really happy. But it is possible to have a family that loves, supports, and respect you. When family woes have gotten you down, remember that:
A: You don’t actually have to be a blood relative to be considered part of a family. You just need to be surrounded by people who love you and accept you for who you are. Seek them out when you need a happy pick-me-up.
B: Support is a two-way street. So in order to receive, you must also give support, love, and care back.
6. Total Control
You know that saying about how when you make plans, God laughs? That’s because whether you believe in a higher power or not, it’s pretty true. There are so few things we actually have control over in our lives. So thinking we can control everything is a great way to feel unhappy all the time.
For example: while we do have some control over our health by eating healthy and exercising regularly, a health condition or an accident can change that in a minute. However, experiencing a crisis doesn’t mean you can’t remain happy. Your commitment to remaining happy will actually help you through the stressful situation.
So when life craps all over your dreams and you feel completely out of control, that you’re convinced you’ll never feel happy again, remember that:
A: Even when you do things “perfectly” it may not turn out the way you expected. But sometimes, something even better comes out of it instead.
B: When life feels out of control, have some self care tools like a hot bath, a long walk, or taking deep breaths handy to help you refocus. Remember what is going well in your life. It will help you remain positive in your thoughts and actions. Don’t mind the things you don’t need to be happy.
7. The Power to Make Everyone Else Happy
The only way you can truly make others happy is by being yourself 100 percent of the time. Even then, a fair amount of people will hate you for daring to be yourself.
The more you try to make them happy so they’ll finally like you, the more likely they’ll hate you even more. They’ll also have no respect for you. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to burn-out and feel unloved, unappreciated and unhappy, become a people-pleaser.
If you are looking for a happy and empowered life, choose to make decisions based on your needs. So when you’re tempted to become someone’s doormat, remember that:
A: People pleasing is not a selfless act. While it may feel that way, when you think about it, you’re really manipulating someone into liking you because you’ll do stuff for them. Whatever your motivation, it’s not a healthy, balanced relationship.
B: Happiness comes from within. If you’re trying to please people into liking you, then perhaps it’s because you don’t feel as though you’re likable enough on your own. You may need to take some time to do some soul-searching about how you approach your relationships with others, and more importantly, with yourself.
In our society, we are bombarded with images of happy, healthy, beautiful people surrounded by a bunch of stuff. We’re taught that the person with the best and most stuff wins.
It almost feels as though we are behaving like junkies. The more stuff we accumulate, the more stuff we need to feel that same high. This is until we have so much stuff that it’s become nearly impossible to be happy underneath the chaos and overwhelm they cause.
So learn to identify the things you don’t need to be happy. After all, living with less, is still living.