Are you waiting for happiness to fall in your lap? Are you waiting for someone to drop it in the tin cup of your life? Well, sorry to break it to you this way, but it won’t happen. It can’t happen. Happiness is not a thing someone can toss at you like change from a passing car window. It’s something that much more resembles the paycheck you earned at the end of a long and hard-fought work week.
Here’s the thing. Happiness is not an easy thing to get.
And unlike happiness, weight loss can be pursued directly. Happiness, on the other hand, is an indirect pursuit. It’s attained as a sort of side effect or byproduct, something caught while out doing other things.
There are Two Reasons Happiness can be a Hard Egg to Crack
- Most of the keys that unlock the door to happiness are character and personality related traits. These are often very difficult for most of us to acquire quickly ... or permanently. In fact, a quick survey of the final resting place of most of our New Year’s Resolutions over the last several decades will attest to the difficulty of making permanent changes to character.
- Happiness requires much more than the single magic bullet necessary to kill the weight demon! Happiness requires bullets from many different guns, so to speak. They include conditions and traits that are themselves, difficult to master. To improve on your current state of happiness, for example, you’ll likely need to make changes in one or more of the following areas:
- Kindness (just try imagining a happy mean person)
- Gratitude (do you count your blessings or complain about your burdens?)
- Optimism (do you believe things will work out, that bad things are temporary? Or are you the victim floating in the waters of someone else’s bath?)
- Love (both giving and receiving it)
- Finding meaning in life generally
- Passion (for work, a hobby, your family, a club, something)
- Growth and improvement (stagnation is no recipe for more happiness)
- Human decency (indecent people find looking in mirrors a disturbingly empty experience)
- Patience (this one in itself already pushes happiness to the top of the difficulty list!)
- Faith (in yourself, in humanity, in a code of decency, in something higher than yourself, in God)
- Overcoming obstacles and challenges in life
- Accepting and coping with challenges that are insurmountable (age-related challenges, chronic pain, others’ poor use of free will)
- Developing a positive attitude (seeing the good in others, self and circumstances)
- Overcoming debilitating, growth-limiting fears, doubt and insecurities
- Building character (another inclusive condition itself of many parts)
- Overcoming character flaws (selfishness, greed, hate, hyper-judgmentalism, etc.)
We start to feel increasingly good about ourselves, more confident in our own skin, comfortable about staring deeply into the mirror, beyond the surface, into our own hearts. Not a bad stab at happiness!
As we grow in optimism, gratitude and patience, we add even more layers of happiness to whatever level of happiness we enjoyed before. But the bottom line is that the realization that the true potential of happiness is dependent on our own willingness to do the work of developing those traits and characteristics that allow happiness to flow into our lives allows us to take decisive action, to draw up a game plan, to stop waiting for happiness to wonder up and smack us in the kisser..
Instead, we can reach out and touch it, cup it in our hands, deliver it to ourselves, one trait, one characteristic, one thought, one belief, one step at a time.
So, you get the idea. Happiness can seem elusive because often we associate it with doing just one thing, like thinking positively.
Then we try it on for size trying to convince ourselves that the cup is more full than empty. We tell ourselves that there must be a silver lining to the recession and that the growing bald spot up top is more like a halo than a vacant lot and the wrinkles only add texture.
It doesn’t take long before we start feeling cheated by all the seemingly false promises of exhilarating joy that were made by its advocates, even if we feel some improvement. The hype just wasn’t equal to the results. It’s therefore critically important to understand, as we search for that sometimes-elusive condition, that each addition, each area of growth, each improved characteristic is not itself the game-changer, but will add happiness to happiness or remove unhappiness from unhappiness, drawing us closer and closer, deeper and deeper into the longed-for state.
That way, measure by measure, we can grow our happiness until we realize one day that life is beautiful, even joyful, despite the difficulties inherent to living.
No Free Handouts – You Have to Work for your Happiness
So stay with it! Attaining a happy life is worth the effort. It may be helpful to look at it as though you’re starting a business. It takes lots of work and lots of time. Most start-ups, as a matter of fact, don’t see a profit for quite a while, sometimes several years. It may take you a while too before you begin to taste the fruits of your efforts in the area of happiness.
There are no shortcuts to building a happy life like there are no shortcuts to building a successful business. So don’t waste any time worrying about your happiness now and go get to work on making it better, one “paycheck” at a time!
After all, there is no government program that can give it to you and you won’t get paid for just wanting it; It’s gotta be earned. So start earning it!
|Written by Ken Wert, a personal development blogger at Meant to be Happy where he inspires readers to live with purpose, act with character, think with clarity and grow with courage. Sign up for his free eBook, A Walk Through Happiness and newsletter! Connect with him on Twitter.|