Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a phrase we’ve all heard once before. The American dream is built on the truth that everyone has the right to these three notions with a heavy emphasis on the happiness part.
People are obsessed with discovering what happiness means precisely. There are tons of how-to books, videos, and podcasts that come up with a quick Google search offering black and white answers to this loaded question. These answers aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re just not flexible — which can lead people who don’t connect with certain practices or ideologies to feel lost.
Achieving happiness is subjective and I realized this after discovering my personal path to happiness with minimalism.
Minimalism, in short, is the “less is more” mindset and finding joy in having less. After years of trying to get my family and friends to adopt the same road to happiness, I began to grow frustrated whenever they brushed off this glorious concept that had changed my life. By allowing myself to be extremely reflective and observant, I noticed that my respective path to happiness is not the right way for everyone.
While different upbringings lead to different perspectives and opinions on how to obtain happiness, finding happiness is a personal and unique journey that can take some trial and error to discover. Therefore, a “one size fits all” mindset is not applicable nor is it the way to go.
Happiness is defined as, “the state of being happy”, which leaves the way to evoke this state up to the individual person.
Instead of trying to figure out how to find happiness, ask yourself what makes you happy. Finding the answer to that question makes life much more exciting because you are taking the time to follow your own unique path where things that fulfill you reveal itself.
In one of my favorite books, “The Alchemist”, author Paulo Coelho shares a tale about a boy, who is guided by omens and wise mentors that give great insight on the ways of the world, in search of his treasure. One of his mentors, the boy’s heart, said “Unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them — the path to their ‘Personal Legend’, and to happiness.” This statement could not ring more true to the way our society is conditioned to follow a manufactured path to happiness.
There are many avenues to happiness for different people which is how it was designed to be. If we were all destined to follow the same path to happiness, we would all be stuck in one place because the path would be too crowded.
Don’t try to make yourself satisfied with someone else’s cookie-cutter template. In the words of the great Robert Frost, “take the road less traveled” and find what makes you happy.
Aaliyah Alexander is a sophomore studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @aaliyahdanyell.