The search for happiness … in one’s home country or abroad

What differentiates satisfied from unsatisfied people?

In one’s own country or abroad, since days of old, humans are characterized by their wish to be happy. Both if the decision is to stay in one’s home country, or to move away in search of a better life, there will be no lack of difficulties and problems to overcome because dealing with the hurdles that we come across along the road is part of life.

All the more so when we are abroad, we tend to let ourselves be carried away by disappointment because the family is far away, because we miss our friends and making new friends is practically a full time job, because perhaps our professional expectations have let us down and things don’t work out exactly as we had imagined, because the couple can suffer tension caused by the numerous challenges that we have to deal with, because the children are not adapting as easy as we thought... These and other difficulties are seen as an impediment to that happy life that we dreamt of.

But what really is happiness? It is complicated to give just one definition. Several philosophers have given their interpretation. For Aristotle, happiness, more than a state, is a way of living, because to achieve it, there is a need to cultivate the higher virtues in human beings. Nietzsche, on the other hand, compared the concept of "well-being" with that of happiness: well-being is like an "ideal state of laziness", with no worries or upheavals, whereas to be happy means being able to prove this vital strength by overcoming adversity. According to Ortega y Gasset, a state of contentment is found when "the projected life" and "the effective life" converge, i.e., when the paths of what we want to be and what we are coincide.

So, what to do to aspire to happiness? What are the behaviour patterns and attitudes of people who say that they live a satisfactory life?
Here follow some by no means exhaustive suggestions:

  • Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t

    Socrates stated, "He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have."
    The first step in focusing ourselves on what we have is to choose to show gratitude for it. What can help you to choose to feel thankful? Every day for a week, try to write down on a sheet of paper all that you are thankful for: people (husband, companion, sons and daughters, parents, friends, work companions …), places (the country that you are discovering, a park, the mountains, the sea …), things (a new food that you have tasted, a song that have heard, a view, a flower …). At the end of the week, re-read everything that you have written and start to show gratitude to those who have helped you or have contributed to you having what you have. The more gratitude you show, the more you will receive.

  • It does not matter if the glass is half full or half empty. What is important is to carry on filling it up.

    The example of the glass half full or half empty is used to differentiate between people who focus on positive things unlike those who focus on the negative things in life. This perception of the glass is grounded in a static view of things. But however, reality is constantly evolving. Stopping to determine if the glass is half full or half empty only means confirming a fact, but it does not help to project oneself into the future.
    If you feel that you are not comfortable in your work context, for example, rather than limiting yourself to determining that you don’t manage to be in harmony with your companions and give importance to the differences between you and them, you can choose to focus on searching for common points of contact where you can latch on to in order to draw closer more and more.

  • If you want more, you have to be more than what you are

    Jim Rohn wrote, "You can have more than you've got because you can become more than you are."
    If you are not satisfied with your position at work, rather than complaining and nothing else, you can ask yourself, "What competencies, intercultural, communicative or relation-orientated techniques have I got to manage to reach the position that I would like?".
    If you are not satisfied with your love relationship, instead of recriminating, you can ask yourself, "What would make me a better wife, a better companion?".
    Because where you focus your attention lies is where you will obtain the results.

  • Live in such a way that sticks to your values

    What are values? Values are all that each individual considers important in their way of living, of working and of relating to others. In general, our values determine our priorities, our choices as well as the measure based on which we establish if we are more or less content with our life.
    Some examples of values are the family, nature, respect, harmony, art, helping others … they can differ according to the person.
    Living in a way that follows our own values means choosing and taking decisions that are in harmony with what is important for us, which ends up by defining our degree of satisfaction and, when all is said and done, our degree of happiness in life.

So what do you think? What allows you to aspire to happiness?

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