An Unconventional Path to Happiness in Life

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In a time when digital freedom allows people to personalize their experiences and express their individuality, many of us can feel that the real world is far more restrictive. You can be yourself online. But in actual society, you feel pressure to fit within the conventional mold.

Adhering to standards throughout one’s life will have you grinding in pursuit of good grades, hopefully landing a job that pays well and spending years working in service to someone else’s vision. Following this accepted blueprint often makes people unhappy because deep down, they would rather be doing something different. If you’ve ever felt that way, here’s what you can do to change your course:

Dare to explore alternatives

woman going on an adventureGoing on an adventure off the road can start by simply hitting up the local ATV dealers; you need a specific kind of vehicle to withstand the journey. If you want to pursue a different route in life, your best preparation begins with a change in mindset. In a Harvard study called the Dark Horse Project, researchers learned that people who found success in unconventional career paths had flipped the standard script.

Instead of believing that happiness is a reward for excellence, they actively chose to prioritize fulfillment and thus lead rewarding lives. Think about the different interests you have. Some of them might have been a passionate hobby but were never considered as a viable profession. Perhaps no one you knew considered them to be respectable careers, or there didn’t seem to be any chance to make money. Free your mind from those conventions and begin to imagine and take those alternative paths more seriously.

Figure out what really matters

This doesn’t mean you jump straight into a rekindled passion. If you’d love to spend hours each day playing video games, that doesn’t make it an excellent idea to pursue a career in competitive eSports. Once you’ve opened your mind to the possibilities, you can begin to distill them into the things that matter to you.

Why do video games appeal to many people? Besides their entertainment value, one strong factor that keeps people hooked is the sensation that they’re sitting down to do something they are good at and are guaranteed to have a pleasant experience. Using this insight, you can identify a specific skill you’re good at and find a job where applying this skill is crucial. Do you enjoy spicing up PowerPoint presentations but not creating or delivering the actual content? A career as a PowerPoint designer might be just what you’re looking for.

Make core values a practice

Leading a rewarding life isn’t just about matching skills with jobs. Ignoring other aspects of your life will lead to dissonance and conflict. For instance, if you value spending time with your kids, it will be difficult to find happiness in a career where you’re always traveling. Our actions need to be in harmony with our guiding principles.

You need to know your core values and make sure that you’re constantly able to put them into practice. When you reflect on the things that matter to you, consider the underlying principles which drive your decision-making. If you can align them with the things you do each day, then you’ll derive happiness throughout your journey, instead of hoping for it at the end.

Being true to yourself in life can entail the difficult task of going against the grain of social standards, but if you commit to it, this unconventional path might bring you lifelong happiness.

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