The truth is that happiness is not the final destination that you work towards in life. Happiness is to be found during the journey through life. The problem is you, like many people, may fall into the trap of attaching unrealistic expectations to happiness:
that you work towards and finally “arrive” at being happy – one day
that you will only be happy if you get this… or achieve that…
for you to be happy equates to an idyllic life where there is no stress, and everything is perfect.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln
What you need to do is reframe what happiness means to you… washing away the storybook version of happiness and replacing it with the real world version. You need to believe that you can find happiness in your everyday life, even in challenging circumstances by focusing on what is important to you or finding healthy ways to allow joy into life which will foster the overall feeling of happiness. Sadly, happiness doesn’t just happen for most of us, it takes work and conscious effort to maintain, especially in the complex, modern lives we live.
Identify the Why…
In order to reframe happiness for yourself you need to identify where your UNhappiness originates from at this stage in your life. Is it a work situation or a relationship that has gone sour? Make a list and give details. Focus on the specifics – if you are unhappy at work you need to be clear whether it your career path or the people you work with that are creating this space for you.
Once you have your list go over it and highlight the items on your list that are external, societal pressures and “material wants”. You may have something about your appearance that makes you unhappy, because you do not conform to society’s norm or the expectation that society has for how you should look or act. By trying to conform and comparing yourself to others you will have self-esteem issues which in turn affect your overall happiness. The trap of “material wants” is when you link your happiness to the material items you have or do not have. Remember that while material wealth is nice, you cannot buy true friends, you cannot buy love and any item you purchase may give you fleeting joy, but it will lack the lasting happiness that we are aiming for.
Next you can review the remaining items on your list and divide them into two groups:
those items that you cannot do anything about – if you honestly believe that nothing can be done about them in your immediate future then you need to learn to accept that for now this cannot change, BUT your mindset about them can!! You can choose to not let them steal your happiness.
those items that you can do something about – think about why you haven’t up until now changed these items already. Maybe you are fearful of the consequences of change or unsure of what will happen if you do rock the boat. The reality is though, if it is making such an impact on your happiness, it is time to be brave and do something about it.
Check back next week, for tips on how to create and nurture your happiness habits.