I am a relatively simple, complicated person. I once set a goal for a year that I knew would be challenging. I determined to be happy. Truly happy. I started off rosy and free-flowing. I told everyone I knew that my only goal for the year was to be happy. Lots of people pointed out that I wasn’t actually unhappy to start with, but what I was looking for was a kind of profound happiness where all the parts of my life fell in alignment.
Do you know what I mean? Seamless happiness. Simple goal, right? That was my 2006.
It was the hardest year ever, ironically, because every time I hit an obstacle I felt that my one very seemingly modest wish for an entire year was being taken from me.
I would get so angry at myself for wasting a New Year’s Wish (I take them quite seriously, thinking over and again that should have wished for the gift of a Warhol Jackie Onassis painting! Or a Paris apartment…) and I became more frustrated that year than happy.
Happiness is not for every moment of every day (that’s excessive and denies all kinds of emotional greatness), but it is an overall life state to live in if you are looking for wellness, or so say the experts I’ve been lucky enough to know.
I didn’t make a wrong wish. I just approached it with the same do-or-die, all-or-nothing mentality that was challenging my life in the first place. Once I became more calm and more present, thanks to tons of Buddhism, art-making and kindness it was actually harder to be unhappy.
If you have been struggling and striving and even exhausting yourself in the pursuit of “success” to bring you the happiness you crave so deeply, you are not alone. The thing is, you may need to flip the equation.
Happiness actually brings you success.
I’ve been accused of being an unrealistic idiot, a Pollyanna and a lightweight. I’ve been told that only hard work and sacrifice creates leaders.
The more I agreed, the more miserable I became.
Now, I still “work” for a zillion hours a week, but it isn’t “work.” It isn’t a sacrifice. It’s happiness. It excites me.
By the way, most of the people telling me these things were either sick or miserable or both… though successful. And most wound up hiring me or asking me for lots of advice!
Hand me an apricot-colored, cold pressed fruit punch and some pink fantasy plants and I am beyond happy. A little sunshine, a great book, a cool look on my puppy’s face, and I can be happy for a great part of a day. It’s always small things that I have seeded my life with that keep happiness percolating.
I’ve had a few old friends call me recently who are spinning into their own sadness. I know that beyond being there for them, all I can encourage are small steps to see more light in every day. While deep depression and other dire states require lots of support and professional care, there need not be a monumental fix for each life crisis.
Its the way that my dog yawns and sneezes at the same time, the really amazing honey-flavored dates at the corner market and the blooming cactus that pull me out of my own head, the past and things that are spinning and spiraling.
Seeding your own life with happiness is a way to support your own well-being.
Colors you love, scents you love, art you love… the view you have of Nature… the best food you can get your hands on that you crave.
That’s what my feng shui ways are all about. If your environments are viewed as a giant garden, you need to plant seeds all around you that can trigger happiness when you need the support.
We all need support. Inspiration. And reminders that life is too good in the right now to be suck in lament or deep sadness.
Immerse yourself in that kind of happiness-seeding and you are creating your own success.
From a review of 225 studies in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside found that chronically happy people are in general more successful across many life domains than less happy people and their happiness is in large part a consequence of their positive emotions rather than vice versa. Happy people are more likely to achieve favorable life circumstances, said Dr. Lyubomirsky, and “this may be because happy people frequently experience positive moods and these positive moods prompt them to be more likely to work actively toward new goals and build new resources. When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable. Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.
In a very incisive article in Forbes, How Happiness Directly Impacts Your Success, Kathy Caprino interviewed world-renowned champion of positive psychology (and best-selling author and TED talk superstar) Shawn Achor about the links between happiness and success. I was particularly struck by his ability to reduce the pursuit of happiness down to five simple bullet points (*you know how I love simple steps!)—
“What are the five key steps that we can take each day to increase our experience of happiness?
1) Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day
2) Journal – About a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day
3) Exercise – Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity
4) Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day and
5) Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness – Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media
Do these steps for 21 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity.”
So, there’s still plenty of time today to breathe deeply, go for a jog, jot notes down in a book or tell someone you love them or admire them or all of the above. So… get going!
Unlike the gurus that preach of massive success that comes at a massive price of exhaustion and soul-crushing labor if it comes at all, this is the kind of success- mindful, happy success- that gives you energy and lights up your life.
P.S.: The Cash Camp is coming soon.
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