“Man is not made for defeat.” – Ernest Hemingway
Circumstance is our scapegoat.
But it’s not the culprit.
Because reality is but a perception, a trick of the mind.
Influenced – but certainly not controlled – by external situations.
Often we plant our own seeds of discontent. Sometimes we realize it, but most of the time, the seeds take root and begin to blossom completely unbeknownst to us. Until it’s too late.
Unhappiness stems from many different things, but it’s within our power to eliminate. So let’s pull it up by the roots.
- Desire – “When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself – Oh yes, I already have everything that I really need.” – Dalai Lama
- Loneliness – “Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich
- Materialism – “An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth – in short, materialism – does not fit into this world because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.” – E.F. Schumacher
- You wish you were someone else – “The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.” – Lao Tzu
- You don’t make time – “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Michael Jordan
- You surround yourself with the wrong people (unhappy people) – “Surround yourself with good people. Whether they’re the best or not, people are capable of learning if they’ve got good hearts and good souls.” – Kid Rock
- You haven’t found your purpose – “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” – Ayn Rand
- You compare yourself to others – “When you stop comparing what is right here and now with what you wish were, you can begin to enjoy what is.” – Cheri Huber
- You’re being someone you’re not – “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- You’re stuck in the past – “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
- You’re stuck in the future – “The future starts today, not tomorrow.” Pope John Paul II
- You’re unhealthy – “The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.” – Deepak Chopra
- You’re negative – “Quit thinking that you must halt before the barrier of your inner negativity. You need not. You can crash through… whenever we see a negative state, that is where we can destroy it.” – Vernon Howard
- You’re irresponsible – “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- You’re a perfectionist – “I’m a perfectionist. I can’t help it, I get really upset with myself if I fail in the least.” – Justin Timberlake
- You’re afraid of failure – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
- You’re insecure – “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” Erich Fromm
- You’re in debt – “A man in debt is so far a slave.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- You seek validation – “Choose yourself.” – Seth Godin
- You have a get mentality – “A few people, not many, but a few, take. They take the best education they can get, pushing teachers for more, finding things to do, exploring non-defined niches. They take more courses than the minimum, they invent new projects and they show up with questions. What have you taken today?” – Seth Godin
- You don’t pick yourself – “You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what to do. And you are the guy who’ll describe where to go.” – Dr. Seuss
- You’re unskilled – I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.” – Dean Koontz
- You neglect personal relationships – “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.” – Barbara Smith
- You procrastinate – “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off til tomorrow what you can do today.” – Lord Chesterfield
- You don’t give enough – “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
- You don’t receive enough – “Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.” – Jim Rohn
- You try to control everything – “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney
- You hold grudges – “I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” – Buddy Hackett
- You play by the rules – “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” Katharine Hepburn
- You’re unrealistic – “I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.” – Walt Disney
- Your professional expectations are out of line with reality – “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
- You’re not learning – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
- You have unrealized dreams – “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill
- You’re bored – “The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.” – Susan Sontag
- You’re too busy – “If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle – absolute busyness – then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy – and without consciousness.” Gunther Grass
- You don’t sleep enough – “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” – Ernest Hemingway
- You don’t spend enough time alone – “Solitude is the place of purification.” – Martin Buber
- You spend too much time alone – “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- You’re acting (you pretend to be happy when you aren’t) – “I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.” – Paulo Coelho
- You’re jealous (of people who are happy) – “Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.” – Mary Schmich
- You don’t take the time to actually set goals – “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
- You never act on your dreams – All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
- You’re dependent – “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Denis Waitley
- You can’t accept happiness (don’t think you deserve it) – “We all of us deserve happiness or none of us does.” – Mary Gordon
- You’re always one step away (you think the next step will finally do it for you) – “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” – Erich Fromm
- You ignore opportunities – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Jefferson
- You’re complacent – “Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.” – Aesop
- You hate your job – “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
- You’re with the wrong person – “People are not perfect… very often the relationships that are strongest are those where people have worked through big crises, but they’ve had to work through them. So the challenge to us is to work through that.” – Patricia Hewitt
- You have no spiritual life – “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha
- You do not provide any value (to others) – “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
- You’re lazy – “Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” – Lord Chesterfield
- You have no excitement – “If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life – that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment – that would be the perfect state.” – Cate Blanchett
- You don’t belong – “By building relations we create a source of love and personal pride and belonging that makes living in a chaotic world easier.” – Susan Lieberman
- You have no real friends – “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey
- You’re afraid of yourself – “I’m sure not afraid of success and I’ve learned not to be afraid of failure. The only thing I’m afraid of now is of being someone I don’t like much.” – Anna Quindlen
- You mistake structure for control – “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney
- You don’t live where you are – “Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” – Denis Waitley
- You over-complicate life – “Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candour.” – Tom Hanks
- You don’t focus – “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
- You care too much about what others think – “I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.” – Tom Hooper
- You lack gratitude – “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
- You don’t relax – “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts
- You don’t take risks – “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. – T.S. Elliot
- You limit yourself – “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” – Helen Keller
- You limit others – “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
- You’re impatient – “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Robert Schuller
- You don’t have a hobby – “Artists usually don’t make all that much money, and they often keep their artistic hobby despite the money rather than due to it.” – Linus Torvalds
- You commute too far – “I’m very fortunate in that I don’t have money problems. I have lunch with my wife at home. I don’t have to commute, so I have much more time with my family.” Kazuo Ishiguro
- You don’t like your town/city – “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” – George Burns
- You don’t have a dog – “Any dog under 50lbs is a cat, and cats are worthless.” – Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
- You equate comfort with happiness – “Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.” – Dean Karnazes
- You’re self-absorbed – “To attempt to advise conceited people is like whistling against the wind.” – Thomas Hood
- You’re out of shape – “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – JFK
- You don’t love yourself – “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
We let ourselves slip into unhappiness – it is not thrust upon us.
Therefore it is within our control to defeat it… and be happy.
Happiness is not an end. It’s not an elusive object, always slightly out of reach. At least it does not have to be.
Happiness is a process, a muscle we must exercise. So let’s stop putting it off until tomorrow and get down and dirty right now.