Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone is capable of being happy. These are simple statements and simple truths. But happiness can be elusive.
We live in an incredibly hurried and stress filled world. When we are faced with bad news, a difficult person, or disappointment, many people tend react in ways that do not serve them well. They overreact, blow things out of proportion, and focus on the negative. They transform minor problems into major issues, and lose sight of the larger picture. Life becomes a struggle and a chore.
Why does it seem that happiness has become an unattainable goal for so many people?
The answer is as simple as the question. We do not know where to look.
Happiness is Found in Ourselves
Too many people search for happiness outside of themselves. They seek happiness from money, possessions, and other people. They do not understand genuine happiness does not come from outside influences. Truly happy people are happy because they have found joy and peace within themselves. These fortunate people have discovered that happiness is a choice, and they choose to be happy in a capricious and uncertain world.
This does not imply that happy people live with their heads buried in the sand. It does not mean that happy people are naif and blind to negative events or the harmful behaviors of others. Happy people see negative outcomes, events, and people as a part of life that must be dealt with; but do not allow them to cause personal discontent.
Do not confuse happiness, contentedness, and satisfaction with a lack of drive or ambition. Happy people do strive for success in their chosen field of endeavor. Happy people follow their passions. Happy people also develop positive, lasting relationships with others. Happy people accumulate possessions. But happy people do not allow their happiness to be dependent upon these things.
Happy people know the only person or thing responsible for their happiness is themselves. The only thing standing between you and your happiness is you. In other words, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Small Changes Can Pay Large Dividends: The good news is that everyone has a happy, satisfied life within their grasp. Though we cannot control the world and all of the events around us, we can control how we react to them. We can keep life in proper perspective by employing small strategies that will enhance and increase our happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are three small things we can do every day to alter our attitudes and increase our happiness and satisfaction with life:
Live in the Present Moment: Regardless of what happened yesterday, or a year ago, and what may happen tomorrow or next year, the present moment is where you are.
Too often, we allow our past problems and concerns for the future to dominate our present. We cannot enjoy the present moment because we are anxious and frustrated about things that have already happened or may happen in the tomorrow. We postpone our happiness by convincing ourselves things will be better “someday”.
Jon Lennon was quoted as saying “Life is what is happening while we are busy making other plans.” What a prescient observation that is. Life is not a dress rehearsal for next week’s big show. While we are busy making other plans, our children are growing up, our neighbors and friends are moving to new neighborhoods, we are getting out of shape and our dreams are dying. Life is going on and we are missing it.
The truth is, now is the only time we have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised. Learn to live in and enjoy the present moment. The past and present cause fear, and when we live in the present we push fear from our minds.
Learn from the past, keep an eye to the future, but live in the present. Enjoy where you are.
Be Accepting of Imperfections: Have you ever met a perfectionist who was happy and filled with peace and joy? Probably not. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility are in direct conflict. Perfectionists are fighting a losing battle. They become mentally attached to having thing a certain way: Better than they already are. Instead of focusing on what and being grateful for what is good, they obsess about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. This fosters discontent.
Focusing on imperfections, whether our own or someone else’s, pulls us away from being happy. Making peace with imperfections does not mean we stop trying to do our best. It means we do not allow ourselves to become attached and focused on what is wrong with life. There is always room for improvement, but you can still enjoy and appreciate things the way they are.
It may take some practice, but as we eliminate the need for perfection in all areas of life, we can begin to see the inherent perfection in life itself.
Start Each Day Thinking About Someone to Thank: This is such a simple act and it takes only moments each day. Gratitude and happiness go hand in hand. If you feel genuinely grateful for all the gifts of your life, the happier you will be. It’s that simple.
We all have many things to be grateful for: friends, family, co-workers, and the cop that gave you a break on the speeding ticket last week. Focus on the good in your life. If you wake up each morning feeling grateful it is impossible to feel anything but happy.
These suggestions a just three of myriad ways we can alter our behavior to enhance our inner peace and happiness. Try them or come up with other ways that work for you. Practice random acts of kindness. Spend a moment everyday thinking of someone you love. Think of your problems as learning experiences. The possibilities are unlimited.
Be happy with yourself! Be happy with the world!