Finding happiness is not something you do – it’s something that happens to you.
We all know that there is no such thing as ‘trying to be happy’, you’re either happy or you’re not. The same can be said for finding happiness – where do you look? And like the illusive butterfly that it is, as hard as you may search to find it.. it’s always over there in the next field, the one with the pretty yellow flowers.
But if you would just stop fixating on the pretty yellow flowers and the illusion of happiness ‘over there’, and focus more on doing things you love here and now as often as possible, you may very well turn around and see happiness peeking over your shoulder.
What I'm saying here is nothing new, but it seems that we have incredibly short memories about things like this. Somewhere inside we know all this to be true, but we still find ourselves flitting off to the next shiny thing, because we’re sure when we get there, then we will be happy.
Something else that I have found to be true, is that quite often happiness is only apparent in hindsight. Because we’re so fixated on finding it, we don’t even recognise it when it’s sitting in our lap. It’s only afterwards when we look back and realise fondly – wow, those were GOOD TIMES.
I believe this is because we are always so focused on the future, hardly ever living in the moment, that, when happiness is around us, we don’t see it because even while all the great stuff is happening, we’re projecting into the future about when it’s going to end, or whether it's going to rain tomorrow, or the report we promised our boss that we haven’t even started yet… or any other of the millions of little insignificant things that seem to take over our lives.
When we get caught up in our heads like this, our whole life seems to be about doing whatever needs to be done to get to the place we want to be. Only to find once we’re there that in fact there is another ‘there’ to reach before we feel we will achieve that illusive place of happiness.
But if you realise that happiness arrives in the day-to-day living of life, by making sure you are doing things that appeal to you rather than doing something just purely because you think it will bring the result you want, it will creep in unnoticed.
We're often so driven to get to the end of the journey, because we've made the journey something to be endured in order to reach the end result where we think happiness resides. But when something is fun we don’t care how long we sit in that space, how long it takes…
When I first flew business class I can remember thinking… wow, I wish this journey could last for ever! (OK, not literally.) Because, by comparison to sitting in economy, where the space between me and the seat in front seems to get smaller and smaller, and the service gets less and less, it was fun and I really didn’t mind how long the flight was. In fact it seemed to end too soon… whereas in economy I can’t wait to get to my destination.
I can say the same about being in the dentist’s chair. Years ago when I discovered that some dentists will give you gas to relax you, it changed my entire outlook on my trip to the dentist. Like many of you, I’m a very nervous dental patient, so my dentist back then would give me gas, plus the injection, ‘so you can completely relax’, he told me. I can clearly remember lying there on that chair while he did whatever he did and thinking, oh, I think he’s nearly finished, maybe he’ll find another tooth to fill? Hoping to prolong the good feeling I was having lying there!
My point is, when the journey is fun, whilst you still want to reach your goal, there is none of the angst and impatience about actually getting there. It will take as long as it takes. As well as finding happiness in your daily life, things also seem to take less time when you’re in that state, and, if it doesn’t work out exactly how you envisaged, you still had loads of fun on the way.
If you constantly force yourself to do things you hate to achieve something you love, or you think you will love when you get there, you will spend your entire life doing things you hate. Because when you’ve achieved the goal (if in fact you don’t give up along the way), there will always be the next thing… and then the next.
We live in an ever expanding Universe, and as a part of that, you are constantly being called to create more. And if in doing so, you are constantly struggling and forcing yourself to do things you dislike, you will look back on your life and realise that it has been one long string of unhappy circumstances with the odd ‘woohoo’ moment every now and then when you managed to persevere long enough to reach your goal.
So it may be that you’re stuck in a job that you hate, or some situation that you are really unhappy with. And it may feel right now, that you have to continue doing that for a while – especially if it’s the way you earn your income, or it's a long term relationship that's not working.
My advice is to find the space in that.
What I mean by that is; as much as possible, focus on the parts of the situation that you do enjoy, whilst envisioning the situation you would prefer.
So let’s say, the part of your job that you hate is writing reports, but you love presenting to customers. Focus on those presentations as much as you can, and make the report writing something you do on one day of the week, when you get your favourite beverage, settle down to get it done and report all the wins you had in your wonderful presentations. Get it done in one day and BANG… the rest of the week you have to focus on the part of your job you love.
If you do this long enough you’ll find, as if by some kind of magic, that presentations become the main aspect of your job and the reports somehow or other, take a backseat – maybe someone else starts to do them for you or they get cut back from your job description. Sometimes it's just purely that you don't notice doing them as much.
If you have your own business, you may find that you can afford to pay someone once a week to do the reports for you. There is always a way to do what you love, even when you are not in your perfect situation.
So, to me, the answer to finding happiness in your life is very simply:
This is a far more fulfilling way to live and as a bonus, you’re much more likely to create something you love when the journey itself is something you love.
Finding happiness is almost an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms – because you don’t really find happiness… it finds you when you allow yourself to do what you love as often as possible in your life.