It’s 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night. The caffeine from my Starbucks iced coffee is keeping me alert. But, right now, I’m more aware of my own loneliness in this empty library than the textbook in front of me. In a moment of frustration, I post a picture of myself on a beach to Instagram with the “take me back.” I watch the “like” notifications light up my phone’s screen, and I smile for a few seconds before carrying on with my stress.
From social media “likes” to the logos on our coffee cups, we live life in the short-term. The things that bring us happiness are quite literally at our fingertips. With the tap of an iPhone or an online order, we rely on technological vices and material goods to bring us joy. But, how long do these bursts of happiness really last? Can short-term pleasure bring us the happiness that we crave?
In a world of continuous connection, we are disconnected from long-term happiness. We must learn to value happiness as a joyful state, rather than a momentary state of mind. Embrace these three keys for long-term happiness in a short-term world:
1. Pursue Perspective
Short-term happiness can crack under the pressure of an upsetting phone call or a disagreement at work. By learning from the perspective of others, you can lessen the effect of a negative event on your happiness. Research shows that each person’s goals and experiences frame how they react to certain events and perceive happiness. Just as grit, or the perseverance for long-term goals, is the key to success, perspective is the key to long-term happiness. If you are happy, it does not mean that you cannot be unhappy. Another person’s perspective can help you to broaden your understanding of happiness to the long-term. It is important to follow the ambitious goal of happiness throughout the ups and downs of life.
Short-Term Trick: When a negative event affects your happiness, talk it out with a friend. Actively try to learn about their perspective on the event, rather than complaining or getting angry in the present moment. Their perspective will help you to see the event through the lens of your long-term happiness.
2. Grasp Gratitude
Think about the people that love you, the community that grounds you, and the basic necessities that support you. One of the most powerful ways to maintain long-term happiness is to be grateful. By reflecting with gratitude, you will find that your true happiness isn’t connected to short-term pleasures. To increase long-term happiness, some scientists recommend counting your blessings every day, while others recommend counting them once a week. By finding and appreciating the good in your life, you will strengthen your happiness from the short-term into long-term.
Short-Term Trick: In the notes section of your phone, try to write down three things that you are grateful for every day. If you feel overwhelmed by this exercise, scale back to two times a week. Find the right dose of gratitude for you.
3. Awaken Awareness
Far beyond sugarcoated mantras, evidence based research supports the legitimacy of happiness as a worthy value for all. To create long-term happiness for yourself and for others, you must recognize and address how happiness can help the serious issues in our world. The opposite of happiness is not unhappiness, but the apathy of ignoring the real problems of others. By understanding happiness amidst today’s current events, you can create real change within the world. Inspired by awareness, we must celebrate the ambition to achieve long-term happiness beyond our own lives.
Short-Term Trick: Add the Solutions Journalism Network to your frequented news sites. This network focuses on the success and struggles of solutions for the real problems facing our world. By understanding world solutions in long term, you can understand your own happiness through a similar lens.
In our world of instant weight loss and one-day delivery, the quick fix for happiness just won’t work. Through perspective, gratitude, and awareness, you can find long-term happiness in our short-term world.
In long-term happiness, there is strength. There is the courage to find perspective in our own lives. And, more importantly, there is the ambition to create joyful change in the lives of others.
And you can still enjoy that momentary social media buzz and coffee bliss along the way!