I once came across this quote from someone wise yet unknown:
“People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness. “
This is so true. Do you make deals with yourself, or have you ever delayed your happiness based on goals, only to get there and be disappointed? I’ll be happy when I get that promotion, or finish this project, or buy that house, or lose those last 10 pounds. All too often, and quite unnecessarily we make our happiness conditional, instead of unconditional. We achieve the milestone and find another excuse not to be happy, living a half-life, instead of being in the now, and enjoying the best of a day that will never come again.
Why is that? Are we scared that if we feel content and feel joy, that it will somehow be spoiled or snatched away from us, therefore it’s easier, more comfortable, or perhaps safer to be just a little unhappy (or sometimes even a little miserable) instead? I’ve sometimes heard clients say that when things are good, a part of them is waiting for “the other shoe to drop.”
What is to stop each and every person from being truly happy, in the moment, regardless of our circumstances? Researchers have found that 40% of happiness is based on our thoughts, behaviors and actions that we can control. So, it can be argued that a pretty significant portion of happiness is a choice, based on things like perspective and gratitude.
If you want to be happy, be. - Leo Tolstoy
Let’s take a step back and consider what happiness is, or at least the definition.
Psychologist, researcher and happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” Happiness is personal, so whether you equate it with joy, having something to look forward to, health and well-being, achieving goals or a combination of all of these things, we can often choose to be happy in the moment, regardless of circumstance.
Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think. - Buddha
I’m not naïve to the daily challenges we sometimes face, as well as the pain we sometimes experience. We will feel loss and sadness, there will be tears at times too, and that is part of the rich tapestry of life. That said, each person deserves overall happiness if we let it be felt.
What is the real risk in not allowing and embracing happiness, even for the smallest pockets in any hour or across the day? We do not know what is around the corner. If we wait until the weekend, or retirement or whatever our own conditions are, and those things never come, we miss the small moments along the way. You can’t turn back the clock or make extra time, so why wait?
I’m not saying don’t make plans, set goals and strive to reach them. For some of us, the challenge of making our dreams come true is its own form of happiness. I am however suggesting, that if you make happiness, contentment, joy or whatever way you define it, conditional on the plans and goals and delay your gratification, you will probably miss out along the way. In other words, be sure to "enjoy the journey" instead of just racing to the goal.
So this year, why not take time to stop and smell the roses, express gratitude, stay flexible, let the “small stuff” roll off your back, and live in the moment more often.
I will commit with you. Let’s not leave happiness until tomorrow. Let’s make a point to be happy now AND we can still be happy tomorrow.
Let me know in the comments beneath this article, what are you doing to consciously contribute to your overall well-being?
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