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Have You Found True Happiness?

true happiness

You have probably achieved many things in your life and hopefully those achievements have given you a sense of satisfaction. But let me ask you this, are you happy?

The reason I ask is because for many people true happiness is an elusive pursuit. Even though they are able to achieve success in many areas, for some reason it still doesn’t lead to the happiness they were expecting.

Have you ever wondered why?

We’ve been taught that a good education, meaningful career, nice home and family are a sure formula for a happy life. Oddly enough, a person can have all or most of those things and still feel like something is missing. It’s a situation that can be both confusing and frustrating.

So what does it take to feel truly happy? As it turns out, happiness does not automatically accompany achievement or success like we’ve been led to believe. There is actually something more involved. In fact, it is something that you can do right now regardless of whether you have achieved those other things or not.

I will be happy as soon as _____________ 

Do you feel like happiness is something reserved for some future time and dependent on satisfying certain conditions?  Are there things you think you need to do or have before you will be in a position to be truly happy?

What if you could control your own happiness and learn how to feel happy anytime, anywhere, in any situation, starting right now.

The myth of happiness

Happiness is one of those concepts that can easily turn into a sense of longing and searching instead of a state of being and feeling.  In some ways we have all been programmed to look to the future for our happiness instead of looking at the here and now.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have happiness now without feeling like you needed to add anyone or anything else to your life? Well, if you’ve ever been happy before, or if there are moments when you feel happy now, then you already have what you need to cultivate greater happiness.

Happiness is Internal not external

There is a widely accepted idea that happiness hinges on external things like having lots of money, being attractive, or finding the perfect career. Interestingly, research studies consistently show that true happiness is only slightly influenced by those externals because it actually comes from within a person.

Unfavorable circumstances often take the blame for a lack of happiness, yet studies show that in reality circumstances only account for about 10% of our sense of happiness.  So, while striving to improve our circumstances may seem like the most effective way to improve the quality of our life, circumstances actually make a fairly insignificant contribution to our overall feelings of happiness.

The leverage of attitude

If improving your circumstances is not the fast track to happiness, then what is? Is there something within your control that can give you all the leverage you need to start living a happier life right now? Yes there is and believe it or not, it’s your attitude. By attitude I mean your thoughts and your feelings regarding happiness.

This is the one area where you have tremendous leverage because it is based entirely on your own internal thought process. But to successfully harness that leverage, you will need to apply it in a way that encompasses your entire concept of time including your past, present and future.

Your attitude about the past

How you think about your past and how much you let it affect you today is up to you.  If you put more emphasis on appreciating all the valuable lessons you’ve learned from the past instead of dwelling on the hardships or struggles you’ve experienced, you will feel happier right now.

People who focus on and recall their good times and happy memories program themselves to live a happier life. Those who choose to remember the unhappy times program themselves for more of the same.  Having an attitude of gratitude for the good experiences you’ve had will make it much easier to continue in that same positive pattern. Building on that positive foundation will increase the level of happiness you experience today.

Your attitude about the present

Your life is something you must participate in to feel happy.  How you see things and respond to them is definitely up to you. So choosing to respond to your life in a way that makes you happier is certainly a better option than choosing a sad or disappointed response.

Look around and notice the simple things you can take pleasure in. Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have.  Building meaningful relationships and setting aside time for enjoyable activities are great ways to experience more happiness in the present.

Your attitude about the future

Your future and more specifically, how you think it will be, will also greatly affect your happiness.  If you condition yourself to think that you need something else (like a possession) to be happy, then when you get to your future you will be trained to continue to look for the next thing before being happy.

Instead, take a look at the things that are making you happy right now and fully appreciate them. Make a conscious effort to be optimistic and positive with regard to your future expectations. The energy of those positive expectations will help carry you toward even greater happiness in the future.

Be Happy Now

So all of this leaves only one thing – when it comes to being happy you can take control.  Make a decision to be happy now. Learn to focus on and enjoy the things that are contributing to your happiness instead of deferring it to the future.  Choose to cultivate a positive response toward your current situation and live in a state of gratitude and hope. Go ahead, allow yourself to be happy right now. You deserve it.

So, what makes you feel happy?
What are you truly grateful for?

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20 Comments

  1. Well, to be honest, and I mean really honest, one thing that makes me happy is all the incredible people and content I have found in my forays around the net. You Jonathan and your blog are now included in that list.

    I guess part of all this is age. Much of what you are saying comes with the wisdom of experience. No matter how many times you hear it, it seems that you have to experience it for yourself. Like most people who have a drive for some type of success, I was caught up in the rat race and the accumulation of things =- thinking that is where happiness lay. Success in things or a corporate job didn’t do it for me. Mostly, and like many others I suspect, I was simply too busy to notice it.

    I think financial independence gives you freedom to pursue what makes you happy and so is an ingredient, but it most certainly is not the end itself.

    Thank you for this very good article.

  2. Brynn March 10, 2009 Reply

    Nice post. I believe happiness is an attitude we choose and need to practice continually. Thanks for the great posts…

  3. Laurie March 11, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for the great post. I too believe, for the most part, that happiness is based on what we allow ourselves to think about and what attitude we choose. I doubt it’s actually possible to be happy while only thinking negative thoughts!

    • Hi Laurie, because the mind can only truly focus in one direction at a time, it is up to choose a direction that serves us. As you said, it’s not possible to feel happiness while focusing our mind on negativity. The two are polar opposites and can’t occupy the same place at the same time.

  4. Dyann Lyon March 21, 2009 Reply

    This is great! I love finding new blogs that inspire…and yours definitely does that! I believe that happiness is a choice and as we choose to be happy, at whatever we are doing and doing those things that make us happy…well, we have that which people are searching for. Rather than search for happiness. BE happy! It truly is a choice and when we choose happiness it effects every choice that we make from that moment on! Thanks for the opportunity to leave a comment!
    With gratitude, Dyann

    • Hi Dyann, I love what you said: “…when we choose happiness it effects every choice that we make from that moment on!” So true.

  5. Nicole March 30, 2009 Reply

    I agree that happiness doesn’t come from success or material possessions, but it comes from within and it is something we have to work at.

  6. Linda Morgan August 26, 2013 Reply

    I feel the happiest when I am doing something for someone else! I surprised some friends with a cake on Saturday that they were not expecting, and I was so filled with glee, anticipating their response, I could hardly contain myself! Watching their faces light up gave me so much joy! Looking at the pictures and remembering this event continues to make me feel happy! I make a point of looking for things that bring me joy ( like chocolate cake) and I like to share it with others because that doubles the happiness! I also like to hug my friends and tell them how much I appreciate and love them! I’ve noticed that the more I do this, the happier I feel! So now I do it as often as possible! :D

  7. Anna August 27, 2013 Reply

    Wonderful article – thank you.

    I love it whenever happiness unexpectedly bubbles up inside…and it’s even better when I can slow down long enough to savour a happy moment, realising it’s a gift.

    Meryl Streep described it perfectly:
    “Happy moments. I feel ambushed by them sometimes!”

  8. CJ Rising August 27, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for your insight. I absolutely agree that it’s about how we feel about ourselves and not how much “stuff” we have. One thing that I have discovered (and that I’ve been writing about lately) is embracing my own creativity. I believe that we can’t lead a full life without some kind of creative endeavor.

  9. Ali Bowling September 20, 2013 Reply

    I believe that true happiness comes from within yourself…first learn to love yourself, then trust and finally accept yourself for exactly who you are. Once you have managed to achieve this honestly and completely, only then does the world and everything it start to make any sense, and happiness just IS. At least that’s what I learned through therapy :)

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