Have you ever said to yourself, I'll be happy when...
...I get that perfect job
...I meet my soul mate
...I get the acknowledgement I deserve at work
It may be this or something else that you are using to put off your happiness and whatever it is I have to tell you that we are only ever happy when we decide to be.
Happiness is a decision
When we let outside circumstances dictate our happiness we give away our authority to something outside of our realm of influence. We give away our power to chose.
Instead of trying to follow those New Year's resolutions that are based on 'shoulds' and I invite you do something different. Forget giving up stuff or doing stuff - we think all those things will make us happy but in fact it won't.
So what is the key to happiness?
Happiness is an inside job. No one can make us happy. There is no point in waiting for someone to come along and take that responsibility for us - it's ours. And on top of that - if we assign the responsibility of our happiness to someone else what a huge burden we are putting on their backs.
This is particularly true in relationships or even friendships. We want them to be a specific way to make us happy. If they step outside those parameters we get upset and then blame them that we are not happy. In true, deep and honest relationships and friendships we are individually responsible for our own happiness and then we can share that happiness together. That shared happiness then becomes greater than the sum of it's parts, it grows together.
In some ways that's why we think that our happiness is dependent on another person, because we feel so great with them. But it really isn't them, the happiness we feel has to originate from within us.
How you can make your happiness an inside job.
Decide that today is the day you want to make happiness an inside job. That today is the day when you stop assigning anyone or anything that much power over you. Here are a few things you can do:
1. Re-read this article at least once a week. If you can read it everyday then all the better. We learn through repetition and it is a powerful tool that will help you remember detachment as you go through your everyday life.
2. Practice Gratitude Daily. In the studies of happiness it was found that the kids who live on the rubbish dump in Nigeria were happier than many of us in our affluent lives. Why? Because they were grateful. So your first step towards happiness is gratitude. Everyday make a list, preferably in a gratitude journal, of everything in your life that you are grateful for. You can repeat what you wrote the day before and always add what has happened that day too. There is always something to be grateful for. It prepares the ground for choosing happiness.
3. Get clear on your anti-happiness traps. Now it is time to look at where you have given your power of happiness too. Is it a person or a thing? What have you been saying to yourself that you have to have, or have to be, to be happy. Maybe it is a relationship, or job, or home or family. Whatever it is write it down. Then look at your list - do you really want to give your power of happiness to these things? Are you willing to let one of the most important factors in your life be dependent on things outside of your immediate control? I trust by now you are saying no!
4. Decide your new happiness factors. Once you decide that you want different happiness factors it is time to chose them. The key thing to remember is that we can actually have all those things in our life, be it stuff or people, we just don't want to make our happiness dependent on them. So now that you have brought these things into your awareness it is about being vigilant.
When you catch yourself thinking "if only..." stop, breath and say to yourself, no, I choose to be happy anyway. This may sound simplistic but my experience is that it really is a choice. See where you are putting your focus, on a lack or all the things you have in your life already. This is where step one, the gratitude comes in.
5. Remind yourself daily, whatever is happening. It is good to remind yourself every morning that it is your choice. A note on bathroom mirror can help. And that also counts when you are having a challenging day. Even if things are going wrong if you can approach it from a perspective of "this does not have to mean I am unhappy and I can be feel happiness in spite of this' then you will be much better equipped to handle whatever is happening at that moment.
6. Check-in and regroup. As with all new practices you need to do a check in and see how your are doing. Don't worry if you slip back into the old habits of assigning your happiness to someone else, that's ok, we all do it - it is all part of learning. Just pick yourself up and regroup and set that intention to be happy anyway. By making this a daily focus you will gradually learn over time where you are choosing happiness. To support yourself re-read this through every day - it is a great reminder.
Let 2015 be the year you cracked happiness, the year that you brought a happiness into your life that was no longer dependent on the stuff of life. Do leave a comment below on how you are choosing happiness.