Humans are such junkies. We’re always on the lookout for happiness and success, but very few people know how to actually obtain it. The thoughts expressed here are far from new, but the ordering of ideas as I have lived them may just be the key that unlocks a bit more fulfillment for someone else. This is my humble hope.
Happiness and success is attainable for everyone. Our own Declaration of Independence even defines “pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right. The irony is, many of us pursue someone else’s definition of happiness: your parents, your neighbor...your ex’s new boyfriend...resulting in a mediocre “life” and near nonexistent “liberty”. “If I could only have what they have and get to where they are in life I’d be happy and successful!”
Most of you read that and thought, “That’s a silly way to live, expecting to snatch happiness out of a perfect replication of someone else’s life.” But how many of us do just that? I’ve done it myself! And how could we not?! From early childhood we’re steeped in “The American Dream” being beaten over the head that money, house, car, kids is what will give us true happiness.
To be fair, this ideology has delivered as it promised for many people. But we are all human, we are all different, and to believe that a one-size-fits-all solution exists...well that’s just plain silly.
So what’s the real answer? Is there one? I doubt it. But, I have learned as I have lived and I believe there is a process that we can execute to help us get there faster, with less pain, resulting in a more durable comfort.
Here are my 3 steps to happiness that America doesn’t want you to know:
- Stop Chasing THEIR Dreams
I spent my childhood in a small town where it seemed like you only had a few options in life. You could follow your friends and family hoping to recreate their lives and levels of happiness, or you could go away for college, go in debt, and hope to find a job that would pay well and provide fulfillment. I had a gut feeling early on that my journey wouldn’t take either of these paths, and as I grew older I became more and more determined to create it. In the process of creating my life I’ve found happiness and success as well as sadness and failure, but all of it has been mine.
- Define Success for Yourself
Everyone has their own visions of what happiness and success looks like. To some it’s the house and car, to others happiness and success is a state of mind. At a young age most of us are instructed to go to school get a job and retire and to some people that is happiness and success. The truth is that no one can actually define what happiness and success is for you. This is something that must be discovered within each of us. It must, or we fall right back into trying to fit the mold...and when we don’t fit, when happiness doesn’t come after years of hard work accomplishing precisely what we were instructed to accomplish...boy that’s a hard place to be. So take the time to get intentional and consider what is truly important to you.
- See Through the Lens of Your New Definition
The key to happiness and success is how you choose to look at the current state of your life. This is much easier said than done, and for me it required a lot of practice. Many of us haven’t trained our mind to look at life through this lens because we’ve been told in school, at work and in advertisements to look through someone else’s lens. The idea of “keeping up with the Jones’s” is super exhausting and never helped me achieve true happiness and success. On a daily basis it’s important to continue asking yourself “am I chasing this particular lifestyle to please others and make an impression, or am I doing this because it actually enriches my way life?”
Once you can discern the difference between the mindset of “keeping up with the Jones’s” and actually doing things because it creates a better life for you, your perspective begins to strengthen. It becomes more and more clear that your lens is the only one that’ll ever treat you the way you deserve.
The moral of this article is that happiness and success for you may not be about meeting a financial figure in your bank account or having that brand new vehicle. It’s about how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror. It’s about the choices that you make and the intentions behind them.
We all have the power of choice and our choices lead us down many different paths. There is no right or wrong path there is only one path, and that’s the one you end up walking. You’ll sometimes hear folks say that happiness and success simply depends on how you choose to look the scenery. However, no one ever told me that I could also paint the scenery however I liked.
If you can burn the old false pictures, paint your own scene, and consciously choose how you feel about it, you are well on your way to durable happiness and super success. And I’ll be right there with ya...on a completely different yet perfectly personalized path.