The Happiness You Seek

By Lori Ann King

True or false: If I’m successful, then I’ll have happiness. 

In other words, which is the cause and which is the effect? Are you happy because everything is going well, or is everything going well because you are happy? 

If you answered true, you have chosen to allow your circumstances to dictate when and if you’ll ever be happy. And let’s face it, there’s a lot that can go wrong or simply off track in a typical day. If you’re waiting for everything to be perfect, you may find yourself waiting a long time. You are giving away your power and essentially, your joy, because you’ve made SUCCESS the cause and HAPPINESS the effect. 

This quickly turns into a belief system where happiness is dependent on your circumstances. You start thinking and believing “I’ll be happy WHEN…I lose 20 pounds...I graduate...I get married...I get divorced...my partner is happy…I have a child...the kids are older...I earn more money...I own a home…I retire...when my boss leaves...when a political candidate wins, loses, retires, or is replaced…the list is endless. 

I understand how you feel. I felt the same way. And what I found is that when you makes success the cause and happiness the effect, you miss the opportunity to be happy now or worse yet, you miss it all together. 

What if you turn it around: If I’m happy, then I’ll be successful.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot more empowering! When you choose HAPPINESS as the cause, you empower yourself to be happy regardless of the circumstances or your environment. You put the power in your own hands to change your world and the world around you. You are giving yourself permission to be happy first, which in turn, causes the effect you desire: success!

Charles F. Haanel, author, philosopher and businessman, wrote:
What we all desire, what everyone is seeking, is Happiness and Harmony. 
If we can be truly happy we shall have everything the world can give. If we are happy ourselves we can make others happy. 

Seeking happiness
Happiness, as defined by Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, is “…the joy you feel moving towards your potential.”

Your potential could be physical, financial, spiritual, relational, or career oriented.

Your physical goal may be weight loss, athletic performance, or freedom from illness. Financial potential can be recognized with a certain dollar amount earned, saved, or given. Spiritual potential could involve inner peace, forgiveness, or love for mankind. With relational we may seek friendship, marriage, children, or the improvement of a certain relationship. Career potential may mean receiving a promotion or new job.

Benefits of Happiness
So, what’s the big deal about happiness? Achor’s research showed that your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral, or stressed. Furthermore, happy people:

                                      Are less stressed, have better health
                                      Increase their productivity
                                      Experience more positive social interaction
                                      Can increase their performance in sales

Becoming Truly Happy
Happiness is a choice. It shows up in our attitude of gratitude and our actions of love, forgiveness, and kindness. It begins in our thoughts, as we become more conscious of what we think about. Most of us have more negative thoughts than positive. The more we try not to focus on the negative, the more focused we get on negativity. Use the law of substitution instead. As a negative thought enters your mind, count backward five, four, three, two, one!  And during that time replace the negative thought with a fond memory or something positive.

Increasing Happiness
Happiness takes practice and training your brain, just like you would your body. Here are a few tips to practice being happy, regardless of your circumstances:

1.  Gratitude
List at least three NEW things daily you are grateful for. It could be a loved one, a job, a vehicle, or simply opening your eyes in the morning to live another day.

2.  Kindness Consciousness
As you notice kindness in the world, the world seems more kind. And don’t wait to see kindness, practice kindness daily. Pay for someone’s toll, or coffee, do the dishes at work, send an email of gratitude, or sing someone’s praises on social media.

3.  Sit and be still
Meditation is more than relaxing or daydreaming. As you focus on your body and breath, you learn to be more present. As random thoughts or your “to do” list comes to mind, practice letting them go and simply remain aware as an observer. Benefits of meditation can include relaxation, improved immunity, better focus, less depression and anxiety, and overall improved well being.

4.  Journal
Relive a positive memory or moment. Think back over the last 24 hours and describe one positive experience. This will cause you to stop thinking of your productivity and begin to focus on meaningful experiences, relationships, and interactions.

5.  Exercise
There is a mind-body connection that improves learning when we move our body! Exercise can lower instances of depression, release “happy” chemicals called endorphins, build confidence, and help you manage stress.  

I’ve been doing these five things with daily consistency and the results have been amazing! I had a friend recently comment on how happy I seem. And I was able to tell her that I truly am happy. And she was happy for me! My relationships have improved. I’m seeing more kindness in the world. I’m relaxed. AND, I’m more productive. I find tasks getting done with ease and almost effortlessly. I’m quicker to smile and to laugh. I’m making eye contact and having great conversations.

Spreading Happiness
When you choose to be happy you automatically give a gift to those around you. Smiles, laughter, and energy are contagious. As you shine your own light of happiness, you give others permission to do the same. You can be both relaxed and enthusiastic which has a positive effect on the people you interact with. The beauty is, like attracts like, so you will find yourself attracting more happiness into your life!

And as you cultivate more happiness making it the CAUSE, I’m confident that the success you seek will show up as the EFFECT.