Happiness depends on ourselves. – Aristotle
When I first started out on my quest for happiness over four years ago, I believed all I had to do was choose to be happy. I followed the plans for happiness that everyone shared and guess what? I ended up moving further away from what I thought happiness was.
I now know that choosing to be happy actually has little to do with actually being happy. Yes, making the decision to become happier is an important piece of the puzzle but it is only one piece. In fact, I believe it is impossible to achieve happiness and instead we should be focusing on being happier.
Being happy, wealthy and healthy are big goals and big goals tend to be hard to achieve. Focusing on the big goal causes frustration, feelings of failure and they remain elusive. Big goals are why we don’t reach our goals. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have big goals, we absolutely should. Instead of focusing on those goals, we should focus on what needs to happen today.
Progress happens when you turn your big goals from a destination into a journey. It’s pretty common knowledge, the journey begins by taking the first step. Knowing that, would you want your first step to being focused on the ultimate destination of happiness? I argue, the better focus would be on doing something that will make you happier right now.
When you begin creating your happier life, don’t make the same mistakes I did. I gave up my power and put trust in other people’s advice for becoming happy. The problem was their advice was true for their life, not necessarily mine.
I had to figure out a way to try actions on for size and see if it worked for me. There is a big push around habits for happiness and even I write about habits, but the reality is – not every habit is right for everyone. To know if something is right for you, you need to listen to your gut and figure out how things make you feel.
8 Rules to Live by for a Happier Life
Here are some tips I wish I had known when I began searching for happiness. When making a change by starting something new, do these things:
- Start at the beginning of the day instead of the end of the day
- Try it for at least 5 days
- Do the best that you can
- Never judge yourself
- If you miss a day, just pick up where you left off
- If something is stressing you out, stop
- If something makes you feel good, then keep doing it
- If you don’t know the answer, move on – it will come eventually
And finally, let go of the dream…
Don’t get me wrong I believe in dreams. I love my time spent dreaming. The problem with dreams is they are often someone else’s dream, an outdated dream, a dream that doesn’t adequately represent you or just the wrong dream.
When I say let go of the dream, I really mean put it on a shelf. As you work through the process of creating a happier life, your dreams will become clearer. They may be the same as the dream you put on the shelf or as I found, it can be dramatically different.
I always dreamt of being truly happy. I wanted a life without the worry, the waiting, and the questioning. Well, the happy life I thought I wanted is nothing like the happier life I lead now. In fact, I didn’t know it at the time but my dream life was anything but happy. Be OK with the fact that your happier life may be different than what you imagined.
Today, find the quiet place in your mind and visualize what a happier life looks like. Write, sketch or create images of your vision. Get your visualization onto paper – make it real.
When you define what a happier life means to you and begin to make changes based on that definition, there will be some conflict when making decisions on what is right. Your head and gut may not be in agreement and that’s to be expected.
When you feel at conflict, go back to the quiet place and listen to your gut. The answer will become clear – even if the answer is a maybe. Don’t force it, instead set it aside for awhile and revisit the issue later.
Honor the process and the journey. Remember the goal isn’t happiness, it’s simply to be happier.
Photo by Lesya Li