Let’s start with a quiz today. It’s short, just three questions.
- How often do you put the happiness of others before your own?
And I’m not just talking about family and friends right now – I’m talking about all the “others” in your life. Like a boss, coworker, neighbor or a former classmate that you haven’t seen for 35 years but now see every day on social media even though you never really liked her back in 4th grade. How much space are you giving to those people in your life? Are they bringing joy and happiness? Are they helping you achieve your BIG dreams?
- Is your happiness tied to the goals you’ve set for your life?
This one is a bit tougher. I don’t want you to answer too quickly, but really think about it for a minute. Think about the BIG dreams you’ve set for your life. Are you so focused on those goals that you can’t see yourself being happy and satisfied with life until those goals are achieved? What if you never accomplished one more thing in your life and whatever you have right now is what you’ll have forever – are you happy in this very moment? Or are you waiting until you have the dream job or the dream house or travel on your dream vacation? And for those of us single ladies…. Am I waiting for happiness to arrive when Mr. Right walks through the front door?
- Are you happy right now?
What if everything was stripped away – not lost or gone permanently but just out of focus at the moment and it’s just you. What do you see when you are the only one in focus? Don’t think about your job or your family or your friends or you possessions, I want to know if you are happy all the way down to your cute little toes (well, some of us don’t have cute little toes, but you see my point). Do you live with a general sense of happiness and joy? Or is your happiness dependent on all those other things?
Let me tell you a story.
The other day I was alone on a park bench on the riverbank and I had my journal open. I just started writing. Stream of consciousness type of journaling, ya know, the kind of writing where you don’t have a plan and you are often surprised at what appears on the page without even thinking about the words. My writing came around to explore my happiness and I was surprised to read my own words: “I’m not happy.” Whoa! How did that happen? Is that really true?
So I dug a bit deeper and I came to realize that when I look at many of my life circumstances and the way I manage stress, that I really am not happy. I’m not happy about working a 9-to-5 job, even though I like my job just fine most of the time. I’m not happy being single, even though I enjoy my own company and have a good life as a single woman. I’m not happy with my financial standing, even though I’m mostly debt free (student loans and mortgage) and I live comfortably on a budget. I’m not happy with where I live, even though it’s a perfectly good house and live near family and friends. I’m not happy that I’m not achieving goals faster, even though I know that I shouldn’t be hanging my happiness on achieving some random goal….
And that’s when it hit me. It’s not that I’m unhappy at all. At the core of my being I AM happy. I have an inner joy and I’m content with the life I’ve made for myself. I can’t look to all those outside influences of life to measure my happiness. I need to let all those things fall away and just look at myself – look at the very core of my being, my spirit – and when I do that, I realize that there is happiness and I’m doing just fine.
The key to acknowledging your inner happiness is to realize that in this very moment, right now, this very second, you are whole. You are content. You are worthy of the happiness you feel inside yourself.
Achieving goals, pursuing big dreams, making more money, finding Mr. Right or living in your dream house – those things will not bring you happiness. But instead, all those things should ALIGN with your happiness. Whatever you do in life, whatever you achieve or acquire – it must align with the happiness within you already. Achieving those big life goals won’t create happiness if you don’t already have happiness. You absolutely need to continue working toward your goals and realizing your big dreams… but don’t do it to find some elusive feeling of happiness, do it even though you are already happy.