What are some tips for being happy despite having an ordinary life and not achieving anything great yet?
Thanks for a great question. I used to think like that as well. I was always striving for something “great” that would fulfill me and make me happy and content with myself.
I only have one tip for you: meditation.
Happiness may not be what you think
After meditating, I’ve realized that my idea of happiness by becoming successful was unrealistic. Life happens here and now. All the time. Thanks to the meditation, my mind changed and I’m naturally happy and content since I’m not stuck in negative thoughts. In fact, I’m happy right now, writing these lines. I’m happy despite there are things that may not work out the way I have anticipated or that there are things that I wish I would have done better in the past. I’m happy despite the lines I’m writing may not be the best, or may not be received well. Happiness is always present when the mind is clear.
What I didn’t understand before meditation was that my idea that happiness could only come from success was nothing but my own thoughts telling me so. I was so completely identified with my way of thinking and outlook on life that I took it for real and true. I couldn’t not see that it only was my perspective. This identification made my life miserable since the outer circumstances didn’t match my expectations.
I tried various things to change this. Initially, I tried to satisfy the frame of my mind, i.e. I tried to become successful so that I could achieve happiness in the way the thoughts in my mind promised me. I read books about being successful, making money, how to start a business, etc. All this information strengthened my belief that I was failed and that success and greatness was the only way to go.
Since my expectations were sky high and my capacity was low, I failed to meet them. This led me to become depressed and hate myself. It was painful, but eventually got me looking for alternative ways of dealing with my problems. I went to psychologists, and spiritual mediums, and tried a lot of other things. Finally I found meditation.
The power of meditation
Meditation means to look within and let go of what we have stored in our minds in terms of attachments to past events, frames about good and bad, right and wrong, happiness and misery, success and failure, etc. As I emptied my mind, I realized that I had been very immature. It was my inferiority complex speaking when I thought I had to be great in order to be happy. I could now start to see how narrow this perspective actually was.
When we free our mind through meditation, our mind expands beyond the attachment of the thoughts and concepts. It is in this way we start to look at life differently. This is very eye-opening because we realize that our way of seeing things is merely a (false) perspective. It has nothing to do with reality. It is not true.
Expanding the mind
In my case, I realized how self-centered my perspective had been. According to that perspective, I could only be happy if I were great (whatever that meant). However, that was not true. Far from it. The more I let go of my mind, it became obvious that it was completely meaningless to be ‘great’ for the sake of my own satisfaction. This world is a place of synergy, coexistence, and gratitude. Being great means to live in harmony with the world. However, to be great for the sake of my own satisfaction would go against this fundamental principle and lead to suffering.
As we empty the mind, our thoughts and actions will naturally gravitate towards the aforementioned principles of synergy, coexistence, and gratitude. Although every person has their own path, everyone who meditates will realize the same principles. This leads us to stop obsessing with things as success and greatness, or how we feel about ourselves. Instead, we accept where we are in life; our shortcomings, our past mistakes, and what lies ahead of us. When we change like this, we naturally become happy because our mind stops wandering into negativity.
The idea of becoming “great” or performing “great” deeds becomes quite futile in light of this. It’s not relevant. Working and living with a clean mind is the best thing to do in life. We can easily move our bodies without resistance or burdens. The actions we take will naturally be for the greater good, for the world, and not for the self. Results will come also come as a natural consequence of any action undertaken with such a mind. Living like this is happiness.