3 Essential Lessons That Will Help You Find The True Meaning Of Happiness

Don't worry, be happy.

Your Pursuit of Happiness In 3 Steps Ivana Cajina via Unsplash 

By Awilda Rivera

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” I cried. I stood there in the dimly lit kitchen and faced my partner. “I’m just not happy.” He held me, as I began to list all the reasons why I was unhappy. There were personal, professional, and environmental reasons. However, at the root of it all was an overwhelming sense of discontent with all aspects of my life.

Nothing that I did seemed good enough, my self-worth was low and I could not help but compare myself to others all the time. I had determined that in order to be happy I needed to be married, make 500k a year, travel 4 times a year, and have a 50 client waiting list.


Needless to say, none of that was true at the time. It’s no wonder I was unhappy, and it was my own fault.

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There are three things that are guaranteed to make you unhappy, and I had done all three! So, here are 3 lessons about how to be happy and happiness that I learned the hard way.


1. Worrying about happiness will make you miserable.

My obsession with "happy" led me to create a happiness standard that was unreasonable and out of touch with my reality. Studies show that “people who highly value happiness set happiness standards that are difficult to obtain, leading them to feel disappointed about how they feel, paradoxically decreasing their happiness the more they want it.”

I had clients, profitable business and a loving partner, but I decided it wasn’t enough. The disappointment was my constant companion, as I let myself become hyper-focused on achieving my idea of happiness. 

I failed to celebrate important milestones along my journey and scoffed at essential small victories. Even though I had a full roster of clients, a loving partner, and the support of my community I couldn’t appreciate it. The idea of happiness I had created was actively preventing me from enjoying the day to day reality of my success journey.

Happiness should be unconditional. You should be able to experience happiness at any time, anywhere, under any circumstance, even if it’s only for a moment. 


If you attach your ability to experience happiness to something external, and that external component fails you have set yourself up to be disappointed. Conversely, if you attach your ability to experience happiness to something internal (like your ability to be present), then you are completely in control of when and how we experience it.

Ultimately, happiness can only come from within. You have to decide to give yourself permission to be happy in the now. 

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2. Money doesn't equal happiness — friendships do.

I thought that because I wasn’t making 500k a year, I did not deserve to be happy because I clearly wasn’t working hard enough. What a silly and ridiculous thought. We all deserve to be happy, regardless of how much we make or what we do for a living. Whether you are homeless or a fortune-500 CEO, you deserve to experience happiness.


Money isn’t the answer. How privileged your account for less than 10 percent of your happiness factor. The quality of your social connections has more bearing on your happiness than how much money you make.

In pursuit of my untenable idea of success, I had let my auxiliary relationships fall to the wayside, and increased my expectations of my partner. You don’t have to be a genius to know that was a poor choice on my part. It is unhealthy to expect to get everything you need socially from one person, even if they want to give it to you.

Resources can make life easier but no man is an island. Engaging in meaningful relationships bring vibrant color to our lives. There is no joy greater than sharing genuine laughter with a trusted friend or feeling so safe with someone that you can simply be silent. 

There is nothing wrong with striving for financial abundance; however, it should not come at the expense of your relationships. Maintaining quality relationships leads to meaningful interactions that promote a sense of satisfaction and well being, which results in increased feelings of happiness.


3. Remember what happiness is in real life.

Happiness is a feeling of well being, satisfaction, or contentment. Nowhere is happiness defined as relationship status, financial bracket, or professional title. Happiness is a state of being that we control. 

Almost 40 percent of what affects our happiness on a daily basis has to do with what we experience and how we react to those experiences. If you want to be happy, you have the power to purposefully take control of your happiness.

I had given my power away to a fictitious idea of happiness that was not rooted at all in the true definition of the word. In order to regain control of my happiness, I needed to reclaim my power. I had to remember that I am the only person with the power to celebrate and acknowledge the moments of satisfaction, contentment and well being I experience.

You are powerful. You have the ability to celebrate and acknowledge everything you do. There is no accomplishment too small or insignificant to be celebrated, even if you only lost one pound, improved one skill, made one new contact, followed up on one warm lead, or figured out the one thing you need to do next.


Your happiness is precious and it’s your responsibility. You have the power to control how you define happiness and what you associate with it. 

You can choose to create an idea of happiness that is not based in reality, tie your happiness to dollar signs, forget about your relationships, and disregard all your accomplishments. However, that’ll probably make you really unhappy.

I challenge you to stop worrying about being happy. Instead, just be present and enjoy the moment.

Appreciate your relationships and be an active participant in them. Remember that at its root happiness is about contentment and satisfaction. Learning how to appreciate the present moment whatever it may be, is the quickest way to happiness.


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Awilda Rivera is an author, spiritual advisor, yogi, and success coach. She writes about generational topics, success, self-determination, mental health, and relationships.