22 June 2023
Reading time: 2:59 minutes

"I just want to be happy"

Each of us will come to the moment when we feel trapped in our lives. A moment when we feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations piling up and demanding everything. At that moment it seems like there's never enough time for relaxation or fun. And we get more and more miserable, often snapping at people closest to us.

If you've already reached the point where you're saying "Enough is enough," congratulations. If you didn't experienced being trapped by life, sorry, it's coming whether you want it or not. But the good thing is, you can prepare for it.

So what you can do to either prepare for or escape from this life's trap?

Understand how happiness is formed and what it depends on.

There are three main components, each with three subcategories. Your happiness depends on the way you approach these components.


The first area is understanding and having the right approach to our past, present, and future.

Living in past means that you cannot ever be happy again. Putting off your happiness to the future means that you will experience long times of effort and only fleeting moments of happiness when you reach the goal you have set. Living only in the present means that you will cause moments of sorrow in the future. This is what wabi-sabi means when it says:

Nothing lasts (everything is temporary)
Nothing is finished (everything changes)
Nothing is perfect (everything can be improved)

It's by combining happy moments from all three times together that you can live a happy life.


The second area of happiness involves the mix of our actions. To experience happiness, our actions need to combine three parts: meaning, satisfaction, and enjoyment.

Meaningful actions are those that align with your values and reflect who you are to the world. Satisfaction comes from improving in different areas of your life – achieving something you weren't capable of doing before. Enjoyment refers to activities that genuinely interest you. You might enjoy music more than math or vice versa – everyone has their own preferences when it comes to interests that bring them joy.


The third part of happiness is managing expectations. This means being mindful of what you expect from yourself, others, and the world around you or circumstances beyond your control.

Let's start with things and circumstances. Material things cannot bring you happiness. They can only bring limited and temporary enjoyment. On top, with regular or frequent repetition, that enjoyment is diminishing. Circumstances only bring enjoyment if they give you the experiences you desire (see above for experiences). That's why you should enjoy "the fate". Accept what is happening. And focus on creating something new.

Other people cannot give you happiness. Again, they can only give you an enjoyment of the moment. If you depend on other people for your happiness, you end up being miserable.

The only expectations which really can make you happy are the things you expect from yourself. But not by pushing you all the time for results. Expect from yourself not the results, but the process. Don't try to be perfect. Do the best you are capable of at the moment.

Happiness isn't something that comes from external sources. It comes from within ourselves.

Here is the summary:

1) Time: understand the correlation between your past, present, and future.
2) Experiences: mix tasks that provide satisfaction, enjoyment, and meaning.
3) Expectations: manage what you demand from yourself, other people, and things or circumstances.

And remember:
There is no other way to be happy than through gratitude for what you already have.

Unhappiness is born from being discontent with where you are and what you have. It really is as simple as that.

The root of all unhappiness is born from spending all your waking hours casting your gaze out into the distant future or shadowy past and looking outside your life, instead of opening your eyes to the present and looking inside it.

To be content with what you have and where you are is to be grateful.

To be content with what you have and where you are, while working toward what you want, and fully trusting that you can achieve it, is to be intentional. And through gratitude, intention, and action, you find happiness.

But the beauty of it all? It circles back to the first wabi-sabi teaching: Acceptance is contentment and contentment is acceptance.

"File: Contemporary wabi-sabi tea bowl.jpg" by ottmarliebert.com from Santa Fe, Turtle Island is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
If you want to look at all parts of wabi-sabi philosophy again, here are the links:

...it's time to be you! #018
Avoid roadblocks in your path #019
Nobody's perfect (not even me) #020
When you are broken #021
Slow down, simplify #022

Till next week ​

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