Isn’t happiness an elusive desire among all of us?

How many books, seminars and articles are written explaining how to achieve happiness and how to maintain it? Perhaps we sometimes lose out on happiness by focusing on the wrong things. We get so worried and caught up pursuing happiness that we never actually stop and really feel that happiness we have. Often it is the counter intuitive path that is actually the correct one. How many articles about happiness tell you that the way to achieve happiness is to set goals, have achievable aims, have a great job or be in a relationship? However, how many people have an amazing job and are unhappy? There are so many folks in good relationships and yet, they also feel miserable. Why would that be so?

Here are some easy to use ideas about thinking differently about happiness. Do you fall into the trap of any of these thought habits?

1.Trying to impress others

Are all your decisions really your own? Do you ever bend your decision making to fit in with others or please others? It could be something relatively harmless such as which movie to watch or a restaurant in which to eat. Have you ever met successful people in good jobs, be that as a lawyer, a doctor or other professionals? Yes, they earn well but also, often, they feel down and miserable. Why? Medicine was what mom and dad wanted for them. It was not actually their own choice at all. Aim for choices that are good for you, not to please others.

You steal your happiness when decisions are not in line with your gut or when you don’t listen to what you know to really be right for you. Happiness is about feeling a calm inner contentment about your choices and decisions. Try to please others and you will lead their life not your own life. Feel okay about expressing opinions that are unpopular. It is preferable to be true to you and find yourself in the minority than to conform and sacrifice your independence and feel weak.

2. Wishing to control everything, ourselves and everyone

We all need to feel that we are in control. However when you find it hard to go with the flow and relax, then anxiety increases. Think about all those things you actually can’t control. We all lack control over the weather, the stock market, world events and most importantly, other people’s behavior. Are you someone who allows rainy weather to bring your mood down? When you think clearly about it, you are simply wasting valuable energy on something you can’t control.

Stephen Covey talks about two areas, your circle of concern and your circle of influence. You may be concerned about pollution,the snow, global terrorism, your children’s futures or what to prioritize today at work. We all have many concerns. Then of course, there is the circle of influence. What though can you really actually influence and affect in a meaningful way? Where these two circles overlap is where you can create change.

3. Having expectations that relationships should be fun and always make you happier

We have been speaking about happiness but have not talked about how you achieve it. In reality, happiness is not a goal in itself but a by-product. When you are living in line with your values and what you hold to be important and what brings you fulfillment, then happiness flows by itself. Relationships can be happy and relationships can be rocky and stormy. Happiness is the by-product of making the right decisions and living your life well. A relationship will not solve your self doubt or insecurities. The right relationship will help you face them and the wrong relationship could make them worse. Either way relationships bring you face to face with all your faults and insecurities and of course all those little bad habits. Great communication is always essential. You both need to talk it out sometimes. After all, the only real way to find happiness is to aim to be living with integrity, by expressing clearly your needs and asking for those needs to be met by loved ones.

4. Waiting for the time to be 100% right before acting

Those things which we believe will bring us happiness always involve a leap of faith. A business venture is never guaranteed to be a magic wealth generator, you need to believe it will work and probably put some hard work in too. Committing to a relationship is about putting reservations aside and being prepared to open your heart to the possibility that your heart may get hurt. You can try to ‘look before you leap’, but no one has a crystal ball that can predict the exact outcome of future events. For many decisions in our lives, often the time will never feel exactly right, but if your instincts say yes, why not say yes too, wholeheartedly? Don’t allow past experiences to tell you that the future is something to be scared of. If you believe you can do it, don’t wait for the perfect time, since it will never arrive and you will regret not acting right now.

5. Expecting guarantees that things will always work out well

Scientists looking for cures for diseases such as cancer know that their first attempts won’t always result in success. They try and try and try again. Success is always about being rejected, failing and learning to do things better. There are never guarantees and taking risks is a part of the gamble.

There is a wonderful saying attributed to a therapy called NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) that says that “There is no such thing as failure but only feedback.” In other words, you never failed the test but the experience gave you valuable feedback on how to do better next time and succeed. The team who lost the football match will look at the tactics, view the match and consider what could have been done differently. Calling yourself a failure is very unhelpful, especially if you realize that you never failed but simply at that time just needed more skills or more insight to succeed. A step back can actually hold the secrets to true success and happiness.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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