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The Number One Happiness Myth Exposed

22/05/2015 13:05 BST | Updated 21/05/2016 10:59 BST

I used to think that happiness was a destination. I used to think it was something I had to achieve. I pursued all kinds of crazy, ambitious goals to try and find this happiness. I'd reach a goal, feel a burst of joy and then I'd quickly set another even more challenging goal. I did it again and again - yet I failed to feel happy and fulfilled. That's when I realised I was approaching it all the wrong way. I realised I was tying my happiness to the biggest happiness myth of all times:

"I'll be happy when ______________."

Feel free to fill in the blank yourself.

I've definitely finished that sentence a million different ways depending on my mood and the phase of life I was in - which made it even more difficult to achieve! Some of the things I used to say included...

I'll be happy when I find my soulmate.

I'll be happy when I get married.

I'll be happy when I get a dog.

I'll be happy when I have kids.

I'll be happy when I get that promotion at work.

I'll be happy when I'm an entrepreneur.

I'll be happy when I get to the Olympics with my horse.

I'll be happy when I can reach my toes. (Yes somehow I thought flexibility was a happiness driver!)

Reflecting back on that list makes me realise how I tied happiness to achieving milestones in my life. Your milestones could be similar or totally different. You might think achieving a specific income, buying your own property or experiencing a new travel adventure will give you happiness. You probably have your common "go to" responses that you find yourself repeating. But it's time you realised that this isn't a way to live your life. More importantly, this isn't the way to live a happy, fulfilling life.

I used to think success led to happiness. You might think that too if you believe this myth. But in fact this is a total myth. Sure, reaching goals and milestones give you a moment of joy, delight and a sense of achievement (rightfully so!). There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, you should stop and celebrate every little thing you achieve! But also understand that your achievements don't automatically give you the long-term, consistent type of happiness that fulfils your body, mind and spirit with positivity. That's achieved by you learning to find happiness in the here and the now. In the end, happiness is a choice. It's something you proactively choose in your day-to-day life.

You learn to engage in more positive thinking. You learn to be grateful for what you have in your life. You learn to experience every moment of your day by being fully present. You learn to savour any moment of pleasure. You learn to see challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow. You learn to make meaningful connections to your day to day activities. You learn to find a bigger sense of purpose to fill.

These are the choices you can make to proactively choose happiness every day. And the bonus is that you won't be limiting your success or performance whilst you do that. Research has shown that it's not success that leads to happiness but happiness that leads to success.

Why? Because when we learn to find happiness in the here and the now, we are more focused, motivated and driven to reach our goals. We also learn to enjoy the journey towards them rather than simply to obsess over reaching them. We experience every moment wholeheartedly with our full being.

There are many destinations you might want to have in your life. Realise that happiness isn't one of them. Happiness is a daily journey for you to embark on. It's not something to reach. It's something for you to choose.

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