On Finding Happiness
These days, everyone seems unhappy with their lives – and so we go on these never ending searches for this thing called happiness; each wanting to know how to be happy.
We work ourselves to the ground, aiming for that career promotion that will finally make us happy.
We chase after the money, thinking that having wealth will make ensure (and insure!) our happiness.
We go on life searching retreats, which promise that you will find happiness within yourself.
We add on to our ever-growing bucket lists; trying to steadily tick off each box – hoping that this will take us a step closer to finding happiness.
So then why are we still so unhappy?
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The Secret To Happiness
Did you know that there are exactly 472 steps to finding happiness?
Just kidding – that’s absolute rubbish! I have no idea how many steps there are to finding happiness… but I know this much:
“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
That’s what Nathaniel Hawthorne said. And you know what? He’s right.
If you want to be happy – then stop chasing happiness.
I used to be so unhappy… until I learned that I really wasn’t.
Our society associates happiness with success, and so that’s what we have been taught to go after. I fell into that trap too – I chased after promotions at work. I applied for jobs that brought in the money. I shopped for the latest home products and made my house pretty. Goodness… these days – even our mobile phones are associated with happiness (and success)!
What we need to know however is this: Happiness is a state of being. It is intangible.
Now ask yourself – Why then do we chase after something that we cannot touch, see, or even measure? Chasing something that we don’t even know how to measure is like watching a hamster run around an exercise wheel. It is pointless and leads to exhaustion.
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How To Be Happy
If there is one thing you should keep in mind; it is this: Happiness is a result… or as Eleanor Roosevelt said, happiness is a by-product.
In order for us to truly find happiness, we must stop chasing it. Instead, we must fill our lives with meaning.
Let me explain.
When our lives have meaning, then we have a reason to get up in the morning.
So the question is, or should be: How do I fill my life with meaning?
Three Steps To Filling Your Life With Meaning
Step 1: Find Your Why
Your WHY is your purpose. When we have a purpose in life, then we have a reason to live. I’m not talking about your job or your successes… I’m talking about the reason you get up in the morning; your motivation to get out of bed and be present.
Let me give you an example.
My WHY is to make sure that I raise my children well. To keep them safe from harm, and to give them the gift of self-esteem and to enjoy being children.
Everyone needs a purpose. It is when we do not have a purpose that we feel lonely, unworthy, and – you guessed it! – unhappy.
It is in our nature to feel needed – and being needed does not only come with being a parent. There are many, many reasons that make people feel needed.
Action: Find out what makes you feel like you are doing something worthwhile.
Step 2: Find Your Tribe
You know the old saying, no man is an island? Let’s talk about that.
All my life, I thought that the saying meant that people love to be around people. Or people need people. That was the whole gist of my understanding, so I thought yeah, nah! I’m an island. I prefer to be alone because I’m an introvert and being around people drains me. But see – there’s more to it than just being around people. It goes deeper than just that.
It’s not about partying with your friends or colleagues at work into the odd hours of the night and into the morning. It’s not about finding a mommy group to have Starbucks with and share adult conversation with. And it’s certainly not a group of people who you march with to protest on issues.
That’s not what I mean.
I’m talking about finding a tribe – whether this is made up of 1 person, or 10 – that values you for who you are; and not what you have to give.
Your tribe is those who you have a special bond with. Your tribe could be your family or your friends…. or both!
Action: Take stock of your life and identify who makes you feel like you are important and that you belong; and equally… who doesn’t. We are who we choose to surround ourselves with.
Step 3: Be Your Own Author
Your life is a story, but it’s SO IMPORTANT to remember that you are the author.
See here’s the thing. When something negative happens to us, we have a tendency to crumble and blindly say ‘woe is me’; without realizing that the way that we approach our woes is what makes all the difference.
Let me give you an example.
Two years ago, Wayne (my partner) was diagnosed with Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI). In an instant, he went from being an active person, who regularly played soccer and frisbee; to being told that he would never be able to do this again. (Here’s more information about FAI, if you need it).
For a while there, Wayne lost all drive. Seriously. He saw it as the end of the world. He even began to walk with a limp – allowing the FAI to take over his hip and leg movements.
One of the great things about Wayne though is his genuinely positive nature and his ability to appreciate each moment.
So slowly, he picked up life’s pen and began to author his own story; focusing instead on what he could do. Over the last two years, Wayne has found other passions, taken up new hobbies, and met many amazing people who he now calls friends.
He has also decided to push his FAI limits and now walks at least 30-40 minutes a day – going against the limp. While 30 minutes may not seem like a lot to some, it is a huge success for someone with FAI.
Here’s another fantastic example – take Regan. For someone with Eosinophilic Oesophagitis, Regan cannot eat most things that you and I can. In fact, he has to drink a liquid formula in place of solid food. BUT – he LOVES to cook! How is that possible? Now, there’s a young boy who has clearly made the decision early on that he wants his friends to enjoy what he himself cannot. That’s an author!
Instead of drowning in our obstacles and pain, we must find a way to embrace it, learn from it, and move forward from it.
Action: Let go of what you cannot control. Identify what it is that you have used as an excuse for being unhappy. Embrace it, accept it, and move on from it.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are right.”
To Be Happy, You Must First Stop Chasing Happiness
So there you have it! If you want to be happy… stop chasing happiness. Instead, let go of that which you cannot control, fill your life with meaningful purpose, and enjoy it.
Remember – Find your why. Find your tribe. Write your own story.
Go Further: Find Your Passion
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