From Marianne: Why Chasing Happiness is Futile
This is a guest post from Marianne Yates of A Life Set Free.
Happiness. We all want it. Most of us don’t usually have it. Our lives lack time, money, things, a partner, a family, whatever. Injustice seems to prevail in much of the world. We’re bombarded with tragedies on the news nearly every day. In fact it would seem that the world is actually set up to make us unhappy!
“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”
No wonder it’s so hard to grasp this thing called Happiness!
We also believe that Happiness is unattainable, so we don’t really pursue it. We believe it’s one of those things that either no one actually has, or it’s something only the lucky few have, people like enlightened Buddhist monks.
Ultimately Your Happiness is Your Responsibility.
It is something you feel in your bones and you can’t help but feel it and share it. I know you’ve heard this before, but it comes from within, not from anything that is outside of you. The perfect job, the perfect ring, the perfect child won’t make you happy. What makes you happy is YOU.
I’ve provided a few action-steps that I use myself to discover the Happiness within me. Try them on and discover the Happiness that resides within you.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”
Accept things as they are and practice gratitude for it.
Every morning, on your way to work, school, or wherever you are headed, turn off the radio or your mp3 player and say out loud (or write if you can) all the things you are grateful for in your life. You might be surprised at the things you discover. I know I was the first time I did this.
“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”
Do you have goals you are currently striving towards? If not, look deep inside yourself and discover what it is that YOU really want. (Not what your child, your partner, your friend, or your family wants). Write these things down and imagine yourself achieving one of those goals. Now think about all the possible ways you can make it happen. Think outside the box and get crazy, you never know what kind of options you might come up with.
If you’re having trouble with this exercise, I highly suggest you read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It will help you to look at all the possibilities in your life in a different way than you ever have before.
Always have a goal you are working towards. It gives us purpose.
Invest in the process, not the outcome.
Because actions are completely in our control and outcomes are completely OUT of our control, focus on controlling your actions and reactions. To read more about this, check out Robert Wall’s series on Control.
Enjoy the process of getting to your goals, even when it’s difficult. You are learning something new with every step that you take. It’s ok to ask for help and it’s even ok to fail 🙂
Invest everything you have no matter what the outcome. When you do this, you will find that every day is a blast.*
Be compassionate. Give.
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day – go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else.
Giving of ourselves is truly the biggest key to discovering Happiness. The Dalai Lama says, it is our sole purpose to help others. “… whether we love humanity or not, we must realize that we are part of it. My future depends entirely on the future of humanity, and so I am compelled to take care of humanity. That is why being compassionate is actually in my own best interest. And a symptom of my own peace of mind is that I can share comfort with others around me.
“Altruism is the best source of happiness. There is no doubt about that.”
To learn more about how you can bring more altruism into your life, tune-in to my weekly series on people who are making a difference and see if you can find some inspiration of your own to ignite change in the world, even on a small scale. Or find a volunteer opportunity by searching the resources at Changing the World on a Tuesday Night.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
It sounds simple and guess what? It is. If you want to be happy, you have to choose to be happy. Don’t let your negative thoughts or experiences take that away from you. You have every right to be happy no matter what.
For more tips and insight on how to re-discover your inner happiness, check out Hanuiloa’s post, Full on Happiness.
Being happy is not always easy, but that’s only because we stand in our way. If there’s anything I want you to take from this article, it’s this:
Happiness is not a goal. It’s something you can have right now. Invest in the process of being happy. Don’t look for it. It’s already within you. Just be it. Be happy.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot one more:
I’ll leave you with this amazing TED video to ponder titled Plug Into Your Hard Wired Happiness. (If you can’t view the video, click here to see it on TED.com).
*adapted from Srikumar Rao
Marianne Yates blogs at A Life Set Free and is currently on a mission to change the world. Subscribe today to get inspiration on changing the world from her weekly interview series on regular people who are out there making a difference.