While there are countless studies about what makes people sad, depressed, addicted and mentally ill, there aren’t many studies on what makes people happy.
This, Maor says, is because people are so focused on running away from what makes them unhappy, they never stop to ask themselves what will make them happy.
So think about it now – what would make you happy? A new bike? A new car? A new house? A new relationship? A fancy wedding? A baby? A fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant?
“Most people thinks there needs to be a reason to be happy,” Maor says. “But if you need a reason to be happy, your happiness can be taken away from you.”
This is why yogis and monks live in a state of detachment from the world, he says. “They wear simple clothes, eat simple food and don’t have a wife.” If they aren’t attached to anything, their happiness can’t be taken from them.
Ray asks us to try to imagine ourselves without the things we depend on – our house, our air conditioner, our paycheck, our spouses. “See if it makes you unhappy,” he says. If the answer is yes, our happiness is conditional.
The only things we really need to be alive – and therefore happy – are sunshine, water, fresh air, shelter from harsh weather and simple food. With that as your baseline, everything else is a bonus.
Now, ask yourself again, what makes you extra happy? Hiking? Mountain climbing? Swimming? Lying in the sun? Gardening? Cooking? Dancing? Making music? Painting? Reading? Writing? Watching movies? Spending time with loved ones? Doing yoga? Having sex?
“Do more of that!” Maor says. “A lot more of that! Choose whatever you want! Be artistic. Be creative. Show the world your unique self. And be grateful for everything you have all the time. That will make you happy.”
And not just on the weekends. Choose to make a living in a way that makes you happy. If it’s not your current profession, quit. Choose to be around people who make you feel extra happy. If the ones you’re currently surrounding yourself don’t add to your happiness, surround yourself with new people, or take some time alone to figure out what you’re looking for.
“If you don’t wake up everyday saying ‘wow I’m excited for a new day,” Maor says, stop what you’re doing and follow your bliss.
Because as adults, we truly can’t blame anyone else for our unhappiness. It really is within our power to be happy. All we have to do is choose.