The world often seems like a crazy place. Just turn on the news: Terrorists are about to attack! The economy is a disaster! And the environment – don’t even ask. It’s enough to make you want to stay in bed for the rest of the week.
And that’s just the outside world. We’ve also got to deal with our own lives. Where to go for our next vacation? How to face that colleague who just got the promotion we desperately wanted? What to actually do with our lives?
When we’re young, we’re told we can become anything we want. “Follow your dreams,” they said. But how many of us are living the dream? How many of us scroll through our social media feeds, envious at those who seem to actually be living their dream? All of those beach holidays and perfect white teeth – they’ve found the key to life, while we’re stuck in a dreary office.
This idea of “happiness” can seem like a fairy tale or just another advertising slogan – something we work for now to enjoy at some unspecified future date. But no matter how hard we work, there’s no guarantee of happiness. Some people get PhD’s to end up working in McDonalds, while others become incredibly rich and famous, only to end up depressed and committing suicide. All of this makes us anxious about life, and it leads to social anxiety, where we constantly compare ourselves to others. Whenever we meet another person with our eyes it feels uncomfortable and, insecure, we try to hide behind the screen of our smartphone.
This is the plague of our time. It might not seem as dangerous as AIDS, cancer or depression, but anxiety drains our energy and creates a constant background feeling of unease. It is what makes us distract ourselves with new TV series and scrolling our Facebook feed, all because we find it unbearable to be alone with our thoughts. We need earphones and constant music to make things bearable.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We all know we should be grateful for what we have in our lives, and that we should never compare ourselves to others. But what does this actually mean? How can we overcome anxiety?
We need to step back and analyze our lives. It sounds boring, but we simply can’t skip it. What do we want out of life? There’s no right way for everyone, but there have been people on the same path before us. We might want to become a rock star, but would we really be happy with paparazzi chasing us 24/7? Do rock stars become happier over the years? How many turn to alcohol and drugs? Then we have to think about whether we’re willing to put in the time and energy it takes for that.
Find a Role Model
If we’ve found a way of living that makes life happier and more meaningful, the next step is to find someone who embodies it. To be a great musician, we need to practice. To become a footballer, we need to practice. Even just to walk, we needed to practice, even though we might not remember it now. The message here is that without a cause, there’s no result. Getting somewhere in life takes dedication. A role model can give us tips and become a great source of inspiration.
It’s so easy to become absorbed with our own thoughts and desires. We mainly think of what we want and need from life, and each time someone gets in our way, we freak out. A large part of anxiety is feeling isolated, but the best way to connect with others is to care for them genuinely. If we only think of ourselves, we’re bound to be miserable; whereas wholeheartedly helping others is scientifically proven to relieve anxiety and increase our happiness.
It doesn’t need to be anything big. A smile at someone on a gloomy day, or just sincerely thanking someone can be enough to boost both sides’ spirits. Don’t do it with a feeling of obligation, but out of a genuine desire to brighten someone’s day. Afterwards, see what happens to your mental state.
Realize Who You Are
We all like to think we’re unique, but this just proves we’re all the same. When we say “realize who you are,” it’s really about understanding who we are. All of us have problems, and a perfect life simply doesn’t exist. Don’t believe everything you think!
Just as we would never show photos where we think we look bad, neither do other people. We’re afraid to be ridiculed in public – and guess what? – so is everyone else. Although we live in an age where we’re bombarded with seemingly perfect lives, we shouldn’t fall into the trap. If we stay mindful of these points, wholeheartedly try to bring others happiness, and work toward making our own lives meaningful, our anxiety will gradually dissolve.