There are so many blogs out there that explain how we can achieve success step-by-step. In the variety of perspectives about personal success, there is one key thing that you should always account for: happiness.
Most of us think that happiness is a fleeting feeling that will go away once that happy moment is gone. However, happiness is more than just a moment, it's a state of peace.
In our lives, we pave our own paths by the big and small decisions we make everyday. Most decisions are complex and it's not a simple black and white elimination method. That is why striving for happiness has become really hard to do. Majority of decisions that are made lean on the "practical" side of things instead of the "happiness-related" ones.
But how do you decide based on happiness
We've all been there; a crossroad of no turning back. It's either you choose to be a lawyer or a chef. You choose to be with this guy over the other. It's a choice that loses the alternative.
When these decisions have to be made, there are so many factors that come into play, but happiness should always be a priority. That's why we say people who are in love are stupid (most of the time). It's because they listen to their hearts instead of what their minds are saying to be practical.
Decision-making based on happiness is not really about the stupidity of it all. It's also NOT about being impractical. It's the reverse. You decide to choose what makes you happy so your life follows through.
Robert Biswas-Diener, instructor at Portland State University, wrote
co-authored Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth. In this book, he explains why internal happiness is the key to any kind of success. Think about an event where you're in a good mood. You just feel that the day will go right and most of the time it does. There will be an unruly driver overtaking you on the driveway or an irate customer on the other end of the phone, but feeling happy that day doesn't make these things change your state of mind.
Biswas-Diener said it's all about what you focus on.
What you pay attention to in the world is what you’re going to end up knowing. Stuff will never get into your head if you don’t look at it. If what you’re paying attention to is bad news, if what you’re paying attention to is all that goes wrong in the world, that’s going to be what ends up cluttering your mind. Just keeping your visual horizon open in terms of “What am I looking at? If I can look at some good stuff, then that gives me the opportunity, in terms of my thinking, to be happy.”
It's a shift of perspective. You don't dismiss what's happening in reality but you choose how you interpret it, Barking Up The Wrong Tree noted.
Don't think of the goal as something you have to seek. Be happy, then thrive.
Billionaire Richard Branson wrote a piece called "Dear Stranger" where he talked about the process of happiness and its relation to success. He said what most of us do are counterintuitive. We think of things that will make us happy: a nice car, one million dollars or a yatch. We go after massive "to-do" lists for us to be happy when we should be creating "to-be" lists instead.
Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.
The key to happiness is acknowledging and appreciating the moment (Image via iStock)
Happiness Is Not The Absence of the Bad
When we think about happiness, we assume that there's nothing wrong that's happening. There will always be something that you can't control. There are things you can't do. Life doesn't always happen the way you want it to, however prepared you are for it. There will be disappointments and failures, but that doesn't mean you can be happy.
We all know people who can take the exact same piece of news and think it’s bad or good. A lot of what goes on in our individual worlds is subject to interpretation. Is a promotion an opportunity to feel anxious or is it an exciting new time where I get to feel empowered? That’s all the interpretation. - Robert Biswas-Diener
The happiest people are the most content ones. Ever wonder about the tale of the rich billionaire who is never happy and the peasant who's lived a full life with his family and friends? Why is this always the cautionary tale?
It's simply because happiness will always be an internal state. You can buy the best 5-star hotel experience in the world, but if you're not happy, it will never satisfy you.
It's the same with your work. You can have the highest-paying consulting job in the world, but if this is not what makes you happy, you will despise it all the time.
Struggle and Progress Is Part of The Process
There is no perfect job unless you decide that it's perfect for you. You can create a list of why it will or won't work, but ultimately, it is up to you.
We complain all the time about why something is stressful and that if we could just work with our "passion projects," we can all be happy. But, then again, it would be working backwards.
Find purpose in your work (Image via iStock)
In Tal Ben-Sahar's book Choose The Life You Want: The Mindful Way to Happiness, he highlighted the stories of the people who clean hospitals. For them, it's more than just about putting out the trash. Instead, they gave purpose in what they're doing. They're not millionaires, but they are content and happy. Not everyday is a bliss, but they are satisfied with their work and purpose in life. For them, cleaning the trash and the toilet is a way to help sick people be better.
Any type of work is hard. Nothing really comes easy. That's a myth. You can want to become a model because you think it's simply posing for photos, but modelling is an extreme career. There's a lot of rejection and a lot of doing part-time jobs until you get that big break that will land you to the top.
You can seek for that "perfect job" forever, but you won't find it unless you find meaning and purpose in what you do.
Understand that in life, there's a balance of "pleasure" and "sacrifice." The struggle is part of the process. Yes, it would be boring to wake up at 6 a.m. to jog every morning because you want to get healthier, but it is worth it. Staying in to study for your exams instead of partying won't give you immediate "pleasure," but it will give you lasting satisfaction knowing that you're able to achieve a goal.
... people who only focus on long-term goals and a driving sense of meaning sometimes sacrifice too much pleasure and they would probably do well to just enjoy the moment a little bit. There has to be some balance.
~ Robert Biswas-Diener
Happiness is not a one-time thing you do. It should be a habit, a way of life. When you come to review your year, ask yourself what made you fulfilled and happy and strive to create a life that amplifies your happiness.
To sum this all up, I'll leave you with a couple of good-hearted notes from Sir Richard Branson:
There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species.
Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.
But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.
Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being I promise you, happiness will follow.