I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “whatever you do in life be sure it makes you happy.” At first glance this can easily be interpreted as, “only do things that bring you happiness.”
I am going to explain how chasing happiness will lead you right to the opposite- unhappiness.
When we chase happiness, it becomes an illusion. A mirage that is always just out of reach.
When we imagine purchasing or building our dream home, getting that new job, buying the fancy car, or entering into an exciting relationship, happiness seems to be ours. When these goals are accomplished the neural networks in our brain light up like a Christmas tree, giving us heavy hits of dopamine and other feel good chemicals and hormones. The same effect is why we love to post things on social media and wait for the likes to come. Those hits feel awesome, right? So much that the more we are on social media and the more we post, the more we need.
The more we personally have the more we want. It is a pleasure that we can never get enough of. Overtime these feelings begin fading off, leaving us feeling isolated and lonely wondering if we can ever truly be happy. These choices can lead to heartbreak, debt, and steal our precious time. We can start to lose hope and think, “If this can’t make me happy, nothing will.” This NEED to always have, be, and do more is a pandemic. One that we all are vulnerable to and that some of us are currently suffering in.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have dreams, goals, and expectations. They are a must and meeting these goals should feel wonderful, but if we don’t learn how to bring joy into our normal day to day moments, lasting happiness will always remain just out of reach. This doesn’t mean making smaller consumer purchases every day to spread it out, the cure to our disease is finding contentment and happiness in where we are and with what we have.
So how do we find happiness if all the things that we think will make us happy, truly don’t guarantee lasting happiness? What is the secret to finding happiness that lasts?
Living a life always on “high” isn’t sustainable. The key to happiness lies in our “normal” day to day activities. We must cultivate and create happiness within these moments.
Maybe it’s saving time in the morning to enjoy your cup of coffee-before you start the day off running. Use this time for gratitude and reflection. Try journaling even!
Maybe it’s using your lunch break at work to get outside and enjoy a mindfulness walk- taking in all of the sights and sounds around you-instead of gossiping with coworkers.
Maybe it’s telling your kids a favorite story before bed instead of turning on a mindless TV show. Taking just a few extra minutes to review their day with them, giving them extra praise and encouragement, or to just listen to what they have to say.
Stop at that beautiful park on your way home and take a few moments to sit on the bench and rest. Allow your thoughts to wonder, but don’t engage in on any of the “I should” thoughts, your main goal is to pay attention to the world around you.
Happiness is available right now, abundantly today-you just have to see it.
We must pursue awareness in these moments. Search for meaning, not happiness. Study after study reveals-none of the “stuff” we think will make us happy actually does. As you go throughout your day become aware of those tiny moments of joy. They are there.
Live with intention.
What type of relationships do I want to build? Start taking the the time to build the life you want. Healthy relationships are not easy. They don’t just happen. You need to nurture and build them over time. Share these goals with others. Relationships, especially our life partners, need to have two individuals with the same vision for what they want their relationship to be.
What is my why? Find activities, sights, things that motivate you. Concentrate and engage in these.
What is my purpose, why am I here? Live from a deeper sense of self-your highest self. Do things that are in alignment with who you are, not who you think others want you to be. Do things that are in alignment with your core beliefs and values. You may need to take a deeper look at these as well. Sometimes we need to change our beliefs if they no longer serve our purpose. We often believe what we believe, just by who we were raised by or where geographically. We need to examine these beliefs. Are they truly ours or are they someone else’s? Are they good? This sometimes comes down to a gut instinct of feeling like something is right or wrong.
Awaken and notice the moments that are already there. Be present with them and give them your full attention. Soak it up. Pay attention to those placed in your path. Every person and every moment is just as important as the next.
Cultivate joy and don’t forget to take time to smell the flowers, or whatever that saying means in your life. These moments are not only free, they are priceless.
Look for the small miracles in your life and you will find they are everywhere.