Happiness, despite being a primary human motive is a heavily misunderstood concept.
For example, most people mistakenly believe that happiness is on the other side of success. That they first must have or do something before they can finally be happy.
But this is backwards. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor explains that it’s actually happy people who become successful people, not the other way around.
Makes sense, you attract into your life what you are. If you think you’ll be happy when you’re “more successful,” then you’ll be happy then. Or never, because the goalpost of success always moves.
Said Shawn Achor,
“If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society.”
On the contrary, you can choose to be happy in the moment, right now.
This article will break it down.
Here we go.
Count Your Blessings, Not Your Burdens
“Without gratitude and appreciation for what you already have, you’ll never know true fulfillment.” -Tony Robbins
I witnessed a car crash recently. Nothing bad — no one died, no one was hurt and barely even a scratch or ding was left on either of the cars.
But what struck me was that one of the drivers would not stop cursing. Poor guy had let the inconvenience of someone getting in his way ruin his whole mood, likely even day, perhaps even week.
But what a terrible thing to let ruin your week! Life will never go as planned. There will always be undesirable circumstances and surprises, but never forget that you get to decide how those things will affect your life.
Wrote Grant Cardone,
“Everything that happens in your life comes as a result of your own responsibility, not merely some outside force.”
Of course, you could tell yourself how miserable you are because someone cut you off and caused you to scratch your car.
Or you could reshape the entire situation by being grateful that it wasn’t worse — that no one was hurt and that you’ve still got a working car.
Interestingly, one research paper found such an approach would certainly help.
They found that by being consciously grateful for your blessing in life, you will be happier. While if you focus on the hassles of life, you will find life a hassle.
Indeed, gratitude is not just 3 things that you write in your journal. It’s an approach to life. It’s a way of Being and seeing in the world. It means you stop taking everything for granted and accept the fact that even life itself is a gift.
It doesn’t mean that you put your blinders on to everything negative in the world. You simply accept that all your feelings and responses to the world are entirely up to you.
Stridently Strive for Bigger and Better Futures
“Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.” -Shawn Achor
Striving for bigger and better futures doesn’t mean that you delay your happiness to the future, you simply recognize that you can’t be happy if you’re not growing and changing.
Wrote Benjamin P. Hardy,
“A life of ease is not the pathway to growth and happiness. On the contrary, a life of ease is how you get stuck and confused in life.”
Perhaps the most interesting study on happiness I’ve ever come across is this one published in the Journal of Happiness Studies which reviewed 85 different studies assessing the link between successful goal pursuit and subjective well-being (SWB).
What they found, was that there was a significant association between successful goal striving and SWB. Which indicated both greater levels of life satisfaction, and higher levels of positive emotions when striving for goals.
Though most interesting was this researchers note:
“The association was larger when successful goal pursuit was defined as goal progress, instead of goal attainment.”
And hence why Jeff Goins has said, “We don’t want success. We want growth. And those are two very different things.”
Also why many people with external indicators of success are emotional wrecks. They’ve run out of future to pursue. They’ve lost their why and begun to ‘rest on their laurels’ leading them to be stuck and confused.
Indeed, the moment you stop being a student of life, it’s over. You should never become overly attached to who you’ve been in the past. Keep pushing. Keep stretching. Keep exploring. See how far you can go.
If you’re not going to be happy now, when will you be?
Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change, but the realization that we can.
So, how much are currently changing?
How big is the future your striving towards?