I’ve coached hundreds of business owners and other individuals seeking greater success in business and life. In the process I’ve learned that most people believe they will be happier when they are more “successful”. Unfortunately, this puts happiness in the future instead of the present, and happiness can only be experienced in the present moment. However you define success, delaying happiness will not help you to achieve those goals. In fact, it might hinder the process.
I haven’t always been the happiest guy in the world. In fact, I’ve been depressed several times. Some people are naturally happy, while others, like myself have had to work hard for it. Fortunately, I’m a relatively happy person these days. I’d say that I’m a success story in this regard, and my struggles have led me to being somewhat of an expert on this topic.
I hope that taking a few minutes to read this will lead you to being a happier person for the rest of your life. Don’t miss the 5 minute exercise at the end. It’s the best part of this post.
Most people think happiness comes from certain conditions being met. For example, they think they will be happy when they find their soul mate and have that fairy tale relationship; or they believe happiness will find them when they are wealthy and no longer have to work for a living. Perhaps their standards aren’t so high, and they think all it would take to be happy is a little more money, or a slightly sexier girlfriend/boyfriend, or a little more free time, or a more enjoyable job. Perhaps they will be happy when they finally own their own home, start their own business, or get a new car. Maybe they’re waiting for retirement to be happy. Then there are those people who think happiness will come when they are more spiritually enlightened, or they have healed enough of their childhood emotional wounds. Perhaps they will be happy when their health challenges have been resolved, or they weigh what they used to weigh in high school. Maybe they’ll be happy after they get married, or after they get divorced. Do any of these sound familiar? Think about it. If you’re not happy now, you’ve probably got some ideas in your head about what it would take to be happy. Am I right or am I right?
I want to expose this lie for what it is. HAPPINESS DOESN’T COME FROM THE OUTSIDE!! It doesn’t come from conditions being met. It happens when you stop lying to yourself that anything needs to be any different than it already is. It comes from the inside. It is your natural state and it occurs when you allow it to occur. It is something you generate, recognize, radiate out, express and share, not something you acquire, possess, or receive. This quote says it so exquisitely:
“Happiness can grow in any soil, live in any condition. It defies environment. It comes from within; it’s the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat proclaim the sun from which they radiate. Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself. Happiness is the soul’s joy in the possession of the intangible. Happiness is paradoxical because it may coexist with trial, sorrow and poverty. It is the gladness of the heart, rising superior to all conditions” – William George Jordon
Many of us were taught, mostly by example, that being happy for no reason was unproductive. People showed us by example that it’s better to be dissatisfied, disgruntled, and unhappy in order to motivate yourself to work hard on changing your circumstances. The fear is that if you let yourself be happy, you might become lazy and self-indulgent. Baloney! You can be happy and motivated at the same time, even ambitious. Misery might be a powerful motivator, but it’s unsustainable. After being miserable and productive for a while, you’ll start to seek distractions just to get some temporary relief and feel good for a moment, and this can lead to addictions.
Being happy for no reason is not in opposition to having goals, dreams, desires, and ambition. The future that you’re living into heavily influences the quality of your present moment. If the future you’re living into is a future of exciting possibilities, your present moment will be rich with energy, meaning, and purpose. Conversely, if you don’t consciously design the future you’re living into, you’ll probably fill that void with thoughts of your future being another version of your past. That might be acceptable to you, but is it compelling? Does it get you out of bed in the morning and fill your cells with energy for living? So keep your goals and dreams, and keep working for them, but drop any idea that you can’t be happy until you achieve them.
Feeling sad, angry, irritated, bored, scared, and lonely is okay too. Let’s face it – Life is a roller coaster. Learn to enjoy the ride. Don’t make yourself wrong if you’re not happy at any given moment, or day, or stretch of days. You’re human. Accepting yourself and your current state of mind is essential to moving forward to the next experience. What you resist persists. If you numb yourself to the pain, you will become numb to the joy as well. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to feel the painful moments free of resistance, you will move through them quickly, and you will feel the joyful moments in life more fully. Just don’t become a pain junkie, dwelling in your drama, seeking to feel alive through your suffering.
The Happiness Challenge
WARNING – Taking 5 minutes to do this exercise could result in you being happier for the rest of your life.
Step 1 – Make a list of everything you think would make you happy. Be sure to include any big long-term goals. Also, include anything that you would like to get rid of or change in order to be happier.
Step 2 – Now recognize and declare that you don’t need any of those things in order to be happy. In fact, you can be REALLY happy without any of them.
Step 3 – Make a commitment to yourself that you will never allow any of the things on your list to be the reason that you’re not happy.
Step 4 – Stop waiting for anything to be happy. Day to day, moment to moment, recognize that happiness is what you are, and allow it to expand and radiate out from your center.
Be Happy for No Reason!