Who doesn’t desire happiness? A peculiar question to ask. Yet, most people may not appear to fully achieve happiness. We may have a desire for happiness, talk about ways we are wanting to achieve a sense happiness; and yet, never seemed to possess happiness. That may be quite shameful.
Why is this? Many of us may not have a true understanding of happiness. It is not based on contingencies; the if’s and then’s.
If I get a better job, then I will be happy….
If I get a better car, then I’ll be happy…
If my spouse/partner listens to me…then I’ll be happy…
These if’s and then’s are the contingencies where we establish our expectations of happiness. Once achieved, we experience elation. However, it is short lived. Once the elation and happiness fades, we are back to our expectations and contingencies. Ever chasing and never achieving.
One is not able to make happiness a destination. We are only capable of creating happiness from our day-to-day commitment to mindful and purposeful living. The real way we experience and achieve happiness is to live one day at a time.
Here is the truth about happiness
To be happy, we do not place our expectations on those things we desire and want. It is not something that comes from luck or wealth. What we need to understand is this:
- We are happy from the joys we experience daily
- Our happiness and joy stem from the habits we form, and then how they form us
- It is difficult to move between happiness and sadness; however, they are both beneficial
Our daily lives become the product of our own process of self-actualization and transcendence. Whether we are focused on becoming better, or we are becoming worse. It is based on what we give ourselves over to. Allow me to provide some insights on the truth of happiness.
Seven steps toward genuine happiness
- Make a commitment to grow and enjoy life where you stand: One of the greatest tragedies is people focusing too much on the past failures, mistakes, and regrets. Or, they are to consume with what may or may not become; and, fear any potential risks for growth down the road. Becoming mindful of the present moment and experiencing the intricate simplicity of the moment allows us to begin enjoying life in small ways. We begin to strive to do something that brings us a sense of worth, a sense of freedom, a sense of fun, and a sense of belonging. As we grow, we naturally start achieving our desires and have a better attitude of enjoying those advancements.
- Value the process and the journey more than the destination: While setting SMART goals are a worthy venture (and how they lead us to successful growth), we do not want to get lost in the focus of our destination. Instead, we want to enjoy the journey and the process. Our own life is its own personal journey. Different life experiences and events help us with our decision making. However, it’s the very process of change and growth where we find joy and genuine happiness. We move from one stage to the next, stretching ourselves and taking calculated and necessary risk. We consistently improve.
- Do not wait for inspiration and motivation: Procrastination is the poison to success and happiness. What we can put off for tomorrow may very well be what we can accomplish today. Happiness is not something we want on those “good days” where we have the energy to get much done. We give our best each day, regardless of how we may feel. This is where we learn to persevere.
- Willingness and commitment to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity: It goes without saying, we only feel happy in those moments we experience pleasure. We crave pleasurable rewards and attempt to avoid displeasureable experiences. Our society is about the instant gratifications – the “I’ve got to have it right now,” There is always a cost to our lives and the pleasures we want to experience. Chasing after our contingencies, we pay the price of loss opportunities and sacrifice self and others to only grasp happiness like elusive water in cupped hands.
- Dream SMART and Big: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is oft quoted to say: “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” While it is good to dream big, we also want to be smart about how big our dreams are. They need to be specific in nature. They are to be measurable, achievable, result-focused by those outcomes measured and not activities pursued. Our dreams, and tied with our goals in achieving those dreams, are to be time-bound. This creates a sense of urgency and are practical in nature to secure success and happiness.
- First things first – Priorities matter: Happiness occurs in the day to day moments when we remember the more important priorities. Stephen R. Covey related a story of a professor who utilized an illustration of a gallon jar, rocks, gravel, sand, and water. If we place the large rocks in first, we can then shift in the gravel, sand, and water. If we do not, when it comes to fit the rocks in, there may be no room. Planning our priorities takes simple time management skills. We manage our time and all things we engage in are done with purpose and meaning. Our time is structured, yet fluid and flexible. Time is our most valuable commodity.
- Surrender illusion of control: Rami Shapiro, in Sacred Art of Recovery, states that our greatest desire is for happiness, however, our greater weakness is control. Bill W. (Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) is also quoted as saying we need to stop playing god. The truth is: For us to grew and experience genuine happiness, we are to let go of our illusion of control. We also realize our greatest fear is our inability to overcome any obstacle we may be faced with. Much of the time, we will also experience opportunities to let go of those things we value for greater things of greater value. This requires faith and courage. We always want to trade up, never trade down or settle.
Life is met for growth and improvement. These seven principles help us keep in mind the path of our journey.
All religious ideologies have idiosyncratic beliefs that may lead a person toward self-actualization and transcendence. It is up to our own self-dedication to those spiritual principles and truths that determine whether we are growing. If we are meant to improve from day to day, then we are able to experience growth, achieve success, and experience genuine happiness.
Some days, we may experience elation and pleasure, yet, other days may require stalwart discipline and focus to maintain our focus.
Recognition may come slowly. We do not want to be faint of heart. The more we work at focusing on being mindful, purposeful, and intentional each day, we are growing. The recognition will eventually come. Our focus is to maintain our overall sense of joy that produces our genuine sense of happiness.
It is when we shift our attitude and perception from what we want to accomplish to how we are choosing to live out our lives day to day. Genuine happiness is waiting for you to make the first move.