“I can’t be happy,” said a Ukrainian gentleman who didn’t attend my happiness workshop as he thought it was a “waste of time.” Following this conversation, I decided to share my perspective on happiness for people who think that happiness is impossible for them, especially given their life circumstances.
First of all, I can sympathize with what is happening in Ukraine due to their current ongoing war, as well as everyone else in the world, as I know that there is a lot of pain and hurt happening all around the world.
So let’s not focus on specific cases, such as that of this Ukrainian gentleman, as there are plenty of people who are suffering today and have been suffering for many years, if not all their lives. Indeed, we can generally say that everyone is suffering in their own way and everyone’s suffering is relevant to them, even if it can be considered a luxury for someone else.
For example, a person may have a genuine concern about having to pay taxes on over a million dollars they just made. Now, this specific issue may be laughable for many people, especially those who are wondering how they will afford their next meal. However, for a million-dollar individual, it can cause a lot of sleepless nights. They may be worried that they will end up in jail if they don’t pay their taxes correctly, or that the business they’ve worked so hard to create will collapse due to ongoing market pressures.
Naturally, we often don’t consider the perspective of other people, and sometimes we even desire the problems of others. But it is important to remember that unless we address the question of happiness completely, it is likely that we will suffer regardless of how much or how little we have in our lives. Hurt is hurt, so it helps if we can cultivate emotional intelligence and maximize our emotional well-being regardless of our life circumstances.
And this is possible, too, as I believe that happiness is possible for virtually anyone, regardless of who you are, where you are from, and what your life circumstances are. We may be talking about significantly different levels of happiness, but we can achieve considerable improvements by following clear and universal steps.
For example, I believe I know what it really takes to achieve our happiest potential, and I teach it professionally. However, one day (and this is a true story), I broke my leg. Then, after recovering from this injury for two years, I broke it again, requiring another two years for full recovery. These two events were unfortunate, unforeseeable, and completely different from each other, so let’s call it bad luck, but it definitely affected my quality of life. However, emotionally speaking, I was able to remain positive and have a fast and efficient recovery. Even my surgeon was surprised at how well I recovered considering the extent of my injuries.
On the other hand, one of my clients lost a family member and became completely devastated by this event. It affected her performance at work, eventually leading to her being fired. Her health deteriorated, and she pushed her boyfriend, friends, and family away. Overall, her life was completely destroyed because of this one event, which arguably didn’t have to have such a profound impact on her life. A certain level of mourning is completely reasonable, but the person who passed away would never want her to feel so bad after they are gone. They would probably wish for her to go on and make the most of her life instead.
Furthermore, death is a natural part of life, and accidents, wars, and other unfortunate events can happen to anyone. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but it is inevitable that something negative (or positive!) will occur at some point of time. It is a statistical certainty. We cannot prevent these occurrences, but we can certainly prepare for them.
In this way, our happiness will look different for each person at different points in time. However, regardless of the circumstances, we can still find our own version of Optimal Happiness. After all, I cannot provide everyone with exactly what they think they need to be happy (e.g., give them money, fix their relationship, or stop wars). Nevertheless, I can teach them universal principles that will improve their overall quality of life.
I have counseled many people from Ukraine since the war started and worked with individuals from diverse backgrounds from all over the world. Based on this experience, I strongly believe that happiness is possible even for those going through the most difficult circumstances.
Everyone’s situation will be different, and people will need different strategies to become fully happy again. However, I want to leave you with a message of hope that happiness is possible for you and anyone else who seeks it. Most strategies for becoming happy are universal, so if you are reading this blog, you are already moving in the right direction. Just keep pushing forward!