I work with high-achieving entrepreneurs, I work with hard-working people that earn below-average incomes and I work with those less fortunate through charities and volunteer work…almost unanimously the same question comes up – how can I be truly happy?
Good fortune is not the root of happiness, I know people that have had very rough starts to their life who now rank among the happiest people and likewise, some of the unhappiest people have been blessed with great families, careers and friends – yet they can't seem to escape their dark cloud.
Same goes for money…I know people both extraordinarily wealthy who are unhappy and I know poor people that are unhappy.
So how do you capture this happiness and persuade it to be part of your life?
How do you classify yourself today – 25% happy, 50% happy, mostly happy or entirely happy?
If You Want To Be Truly Happy, Consider…
1. Happiness Is Transient – There Are Degrees Of Happiness
Most people are neither completely unhappy nor completely happy…the reason I asked the question where you ranked yourself above is to get a sense for whether you have more or less happiness. It is important, however, that you understand what DOES make you truly happy and what does NOT. For example, what type of people make you happy when you are around them? What activities make you happy? What creative pursuits make you happiest? What contributions or help can you provide that makes you feel happy having given it?
By identifying what makes you happy and what doesn't – you prepare yourself to make adjustments in your life that will "slide the rule" in happiness favor so you can move from 50% to 75% over the coming months
2. Happiness Is Related To The Journey
When you really dig into what makes us happy it is often things like Learning, Contributing, Helping, Growing, Planning Our Future, etc…
In other words, it is the start of a journey or the journey itself that makes us happy rather than JUST the summit of the mountain.
When we deny ourselves the realization that the journey is what impacts happiness in our lives the most, we limit our ability to recognize happiness ONLY in those rare moments when we reach the eclipse of the journey in our lives (we get married, have a child, attain a major goal, etc…)
What about all of the other moments along the way?
3. Happiness Is A Learned Skill – A Muscle
Just as you must WORK at exercise, learning a new language, mastering a skill like public speaking or being a good parent — happiness too is a skill that must be learned and built over time.
What this means is that you need to…
- Focus – as with anything you want to master, it starts with focus, attention, belief and dedication
- Learn – a big part of mastering a new skill is learning the most effective way it is done, usually by those who are ahead of you so you can learn through their experience
- Try – Take Action – nothing happens without trial, error, adjustment until you master your new skill. Happiness is no different, each new skill (internally, who you spend time with, how you structure your life, etc…) must be tested so you can tell if it is really working for you
- Habits – what is exercise and diet if they do not become new lifestyle habits? The same goes for learned skills around happiness. Many people can force themselves to be happy for a few days, but then they slip back into bad habits and suddenly the happiness they seek disappears
Can you move the bar and become happier in your life?
Most of us absolutely can…by understanding that happiness is improved by degree, that it is completely within your control and that with focus, attention and action you can bring more happiness into your life starting now.
Is that the way you think of happiness in your life?