Happiness. It’s such a simple word. A smile, a laugh, a friend, a family member, a special event in your life: this is what you call happiness. Sometimes you don’t realise that that happiness is right in front of you; once you do realise, take it.

However, sometimes this simple word can get complicated, can have many layers that you have to dig through to attain . It doesn’t have to feel that way though, for people who are struggling right now to get it.

If you are looking for the happiness you are craving, these are some ways to get it. It could work for some, or it could not, but it’s better to try to be closer to something good than not risk it at all, right?

Step 1: Look at what you already have.

Remember when you said that “you don’t have anything to wear for tonight”? Have you actually checked your old clothes? Maybe, you’re just looking for something more when you can be contented with what you already have. The best things could be just right there, deep in somewhere personal or right in front of you.

If you stopped looking around and going through twist and turns, you could probably look at what’s forward and see that there’s more there than what meets the eye. It’s all right to seek for more, we’re all hungry for more in everything, but if you continue to look and look, you’re losing the end goal: fulfillment.

Contentment with what you possess will bring you more satisfaction than you think. So pick up that good shirt and cool jeans – maybe you already have the things that you can say is enough to bring you that happiness.

Step 2: Mistakes happen.

We are humans. We are living right now to make the best out of our time and if there are highs, there will be lows. It is natural for us to make mistakes, that’s just how we roll. However, it’ll go badly if you continue to hang on to that mistake.

Mistakes could lead to people getting hurt or things getting ruined, but you can change it to something else. Most of the time, people who seek happiness are seeking forgiveness. It could be forgiveness from others, forgiveness from dignity but usually, forgiveness from themselves. You need to learn to forgive yourself to move forward.

It’s okay, mistakes happen and you can’t change that – it’s a course of life. Know that these mistakes could turn into lessons so you can prevent yourself from doing the same thing in the future. Forgiveness could relieve you more than you realize.

So stop looking at mistakes as the worse, but look at it as a “this is a learning experience and I know the consequences now, don’t let this happen again” mindset. Do the wrong, say your apologies, learn and forgive. Especially, learn to forgive yourself.

Step 3: Fright or fight.

Every day we will face challenges that prevents us from doing or having what we please. It could be small troubles or big messes, there will always be a bump on the road. We have a fright-or-flight mode when it comes to facing such challenges ahead. Fright mode is when we let the fear take us over, leaving us to run from these problems or ignore them.

This is, of course, a safe option to handle circumstances that will affect us greatly. You won’t have to risk a bigger part of yourself and you will stay protected because of the fear. Although, I believe in fighting. Fight mode, to face what is blocking your way. It is when we try to fix the problem, to look at the person that is preventing your happiness and saying “this is enough” – it is when we fight for our greater good. There would be more risks when you fight, could be a lot more hardships, a lot more tears, and a lot more self-dignity.

If you choose to fight, along the way you would ask “is this even worth it?”. And the answer is yes, I promise you – to fight for such a long time and to get the one thing you want? It is all worth it in the end. So you choose: fright? Or fight?

Step 4: Love.

Ah love, another word that is associated to happiness, yet people say it so emptily. A love for a family member or a special person can affect your happiness in an instant. To have such powerful feelings like love towards something you do or someone is extraordinary in your own way.

We see love in several ways, and I don’t mean the PDAs that you see those couples do. Love is patience. Love is understanding. Love is honesty. Love is what you can give to the world. Love is so powerful that it could change everyone. So take all the love you can get. Be selflessly selfish, know what you need and take care of yourself. Loving yourself can lead to acceptance of what you have in life. It could make your view to the world lighter, better.

Love the smallest things: that chocolate bar you got as a treat after working out for a while, the calming rain after a long day, the sweet melody of the song you want to dance to. Love the biggest moments: a kiss on the cheek from family, an award you received from school, the time you’ve made someone smile. Love the things you know you can love, because then, you are leading yourself to happiness. It shouldn’t be just an empty word. When you love, you are making yourself happy. So do it.

Step 5: Everything takes time.

Patience is a virtue. Truly, time is so important to attain happiness. Not everything is going to be better straight away if you didn’t give it time. Being impatient can build up to even more frustrations and anger, which certainly isn’t happiness for me. “Life is short, you shouldn’t wait for things and just do them.” As much as I want to agree to this statement, it’s not always this easy.

You need to have time to process all the challenges you have to face. You need time to forgive. You need time to love. Even if the process of waiting is painful, it’s essential. So wait, everything will get better – be patient.

Contentment and forgiveness are an act place upon yourself. Risking and love will lead you to getting hurt, but again, there will always be pain to get to the finish line. The clock is ticking but you should never rush happiness into your life. These steps can be of help for some of you, even if it’s just for a bit.

At the end of the day, it’s your happiness that’s gonna matter to you the most. If you have the opportunity to be happy, don’t ignore it. No matter how hard it is to keep it, no matter how long it is to get it, no matter how painful it is to reach for it – once it’s there: take it and don’t let go.

Khris is in Year 11 and lives in Invercargill. She likes dancing, music, writing, trying new things and exploring the fun in everything.

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