This Reddit Thread on What Makes People Happy Is Incredibly Uplifting
A high school student asked how "regular people" could be happy, and got some insightful answers.
Recently, a high school student posted a question on Reddit that would probably make anyone who isn't rich and famous feel pretty defensive: "How are regular people happy that they're working a 9-to-5 job, have crippling student debt, have to live a small apartment, and continue to do the same thing everyday until they die?" The somewhat self-righteous youth said they'd rather die than "work for some big corporation, barely making enough money to get by, and live a life without any satisfaction." Then, just to sprinkle in a little extra judgment, they wrote that they feel pity every time they "look at a fast food worker or someone working at a basic job." The post quickly went viral, with more than 2,000 comments from "regular people" ready to school this young'un on what what makes people happy.
Plenty of people gave personal testimonies proving that you never know how someone feels on the inside based on what their life looks like on the outside. Just because someone works a minimum wage job doesn't necessarily mean they're miserable, because people are unique and have different priorities.
"I'm 25, content with my life as a hotel worker," one Reddit user wrote. "I make tips, a decent paycheck that keeps a roof over my head and food in my belly, and allows me to keep my cats happy and fed… Will I ever be rich and famous, living a comfy life somewhere? It's incredibly unlikely, and I'm OK with that. Not sure what the future holds but, for now, I'm pretty happy with what I got."
Indeed, research out of Yale University shows that happiness is largely a state of mind and a matter of perspective. After all, there are enough celebrities who have opened up about struggling with anxiety and depression to indicate that being ultra-successful won't keep negativity at bay. And by now, we've probably all heard that making more money won't make you happier past a certain point. That's why some people actually feel happier after giving up money and fame.
"Everyone has a different version of a happy life," another Reddit user wrote. "I had a fast-paced exciting career in Hollywood [that was] full of success. However as I got older, my priorities changed and I gave it all up for an office job with less stress and more time to dedicate to my family. Now what makes me happy is working to live, not living to work. I love not having the chaos, but I am grateful I experienced it. Neither way is better than the other, it's just how it fits for each individual."
Another Reddit user wrote that, when they were in high school, they too felt like they had to get "some kind of unique, creative, interesting job in the future," or be doomed to "drudgery and misery forever." Then they got out of college, started working at a warehouse, became saddled with debt, and realized something unexpected about the life that they had dreaded. "I'm more happy keeping my hobbies as hobbies," they said. "I like trading art out for music or writing whenever it suits me, without having deadlines and responsibilities shackling me to creative pursuits. People who do what they love for a living may 'never work a day in their lives,' but they'll also never have a vacation. My job pays well, has good benefits (dental plans are more important than you'd think), gives me three weeks paid vacation a year, and gets me home at five every day to relax and enjoy life's simple pleasures."
So, the moral of the story is that there are many different ways to be happy, and what brings you joy might not be what you thought it would be when you were younger. It just takes a lot of self-reflection—and maybe some gratitude exercises—to know what you want and appreciate what you have, no matter what you do.