Happiness is not something you catch. It is something you are. It is contentment, fulfillment, and satisfaction. It is not rainbows and cotton candy all the time. We all have bad moments as well as good moments and all of our emotions are part of our happiness.
If we focus on how much happiness we can gain, we tend to become less happy. But if we focus on creating and practicing habits that will lead to happiness, we eventually discover that we are happier.
It is a conundrum that many people struggle with. To become happier, you have to be aware you want to be happier and purposefully take action so you can become happier. But if you focus only on the results of your actions rather than on creating happiness habits, you don’t become happier and you could actually become less happy.
The secret is to focus on creating the habits that build a life of happiness. Think about what you can give vs. what you receive and on what you can appreciate instead of what you will get. Happiness comes from how you live your life not what you get out of life.
Here are some examples to help illustrate:
- Happiness Exercise: Think of three things you are grateful for each morning. If your immediate response after you have completed this exercise is to evaluate your happiness and to note that you are not actually happier, you have missed your opportunity. The exercise creates a positive cycle of appreciation for what you have that can continue throughout the day. The positive impacts come after many days of this positive cycle creating lots of additional thoughts about why you appreciate who and what is in your life. You look back and realize you are a little happier. If you end your session with the declaration that you are not happier and it didn’t work, then you create a negative cycle of what is not working in your life and why you are not happy. Be grateful because it is a good habit to be grateful rather than because of how much happier it will make you.
- Happiness Exercise: Do a random act of kindness. The impact of this exercise comes from the feeling you get from selflessly helping someone else. If you help someone else just so you can be happier, you have negated the benefit. Your act is no longer selfless and the result is it does not have the same impact. Be kind to others because it is a good habit to create.
- Happiness Exercise: End the day thinking about one good thing that happened. Science shows that since we can’t remember every detail about every day, we summarize by remembering our last experience. So if we remember a good final experience each day, we will look back on our days and see them as happier. If we look back on our days and think about how we are not happier, we will see our life as less happy. Think about good things at the end of each because it a great habit and when you look back your will recognize your happiness.
Don’t wake up asking to be happy, wake up thinking about how you can help others be happy. Or wake up thinking about what changes you can make to improve your life. Happiness is not something you receive and not something you can keep, like a trophy. Happiness is a state of being. You choose each day whether you want to be happy. You can create daily habits that will make you and others happy.
Don’t chase happiness. Create habits of happiness.