“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” ― Albert Camus
Have you ever said, “I will be happy when _____ (fill in the blank).” Of course you have! You, me and everyone else. It’s easy to fall into this happiness trap of living for what’s to come instead of living for today. Coincidently, I have fallen into this trap lately. The trap of focusing on all the things I want but don’t yet have. There are so many things I want to accomplish, so many big dreams and desires I am in the process of creating. I’m excited about all of these desires for my life but they can also be a killjoy! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting striving for more and improving your life is bad by any means. I am just sending a reminder (to myself included) that today holds just as much joy and wonder as whatever you’re waiting for in the future. I wish I would’ve know this 10 years ago, I wouldn’t spent my 20’s having more fun and worrying less about my future!
If our happiness is placed in the future we are holding our happiness hostage.
According to Daniel Gilbert author of Stumbling on Happiness, most people don’t even really know what will have the greatest impact on their happiness anyway. What we think will make us happy may not. (Check out this TED Talk) I’m sure you know someone who seems to have it all but is still miserable, or someone who has almost nothing but is completely full of joy
“It’s always better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than at the top of the one you don’t.” – Unknown
Goals, objectives, action steps and strategies are all good. It is when we make our happiness dependent on them that life becomes a grind. I recently watched the documentary I AM by the filmmaker Tom Shakyac. (He was responsible for great comedies like Ace Ventura and The Nutty Professor.) In this documentary he chronicles his personal journey toward financial and commercial success only to realize he wasn’t any happier. All of the “success” wasn’t a magic pill and he wasn’t living happily ever after.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln
This is because happiness is momentary. It’s not terminal and dependent on all the goals we hope to accomplish someday. Happiness comes from being present, engaged, and absorbed in what we’re doing in the moment. A full, rich, and meaningful life comes from living moment by moment. (Here is an app you can download called Track your Happiness to test this theory by the way.) Each moment holds beauty and fulfillment beyond what we usually notice.
Find something in this moment to appreciate. Take a deep breath and experience the feeling of presence – of simply being alive, vibrantly alive.
We will be miserable in the present if we’re always waiting for the future. If I am traveling on a road trip I don’t want to stare at the map the whole time, I want to enjoy the trip. The map or the goal is all good, but once I’ve checked it, I want to set it aside and enjoy the ride. It’s okay to check the map once in a while, but don’t forget to make each day your masterpiece in the process. Make today be the day you experience life to the fullest. The only time you have to make the most of life is today. It may be your last. (Sorry, but sometimes a little mortality check can shake up our perspective.) We can decide to be happy when we commit to making happiness a priority instead of secondary to the situation we are in. Happiness is an inside-out job. Make the choice to be happy today.
Put aside your to-do list and objectives for just one day and make it a priority to do something you love.
Make the commitment to enjoy life and tell yourself, “I choose to be happy now.” What do you think? Is happiness a choice? Are you happiest when you’re in the moment?