However, Ben is not happy.
During our last conversation Ben shared how bewildered he is that after achieving so many of his goals he’s not as happy as he had expected to be. This led us to a discussion of happiness, and just what it is.
Ben assumed that happiness is something you achieve. He believed that if he accomplished his goals, grew his business and acquired more money and possessions, happiness would automatically follow.
However, happiness isn’t something you GET, it’s something you MAKE.
How often have you achieved a long-term goal, expecting it to make you happy, just to find that after a short period of feeling successful or proud, you then felt empty and lost? This is because once you achieve a goal you set another goal, and continue to want more. Many people lead an “if only” life. They say “I’d be happy if only I had__________________.” However, when they get that thing or achieve that goal, they’re surprised and disappointed to discover they feel the same as they always did.
It’s also about self-esteem, and the ability to love and value yourself, even if you’re not perfect. If you appreciate the incredible human being you are, and accept yourself even with all your imperfections, you will find inner happiness that’s based on who you are internally rather than external stuff.
Happiness is about attitude and choices, NOT STUFF!
We each have the option of focusing on the positive in our life, or on the negative. We can look at all our blessings, or choose to only see what’s lacking. Along with that comes the choice to be happy and feel blessed, or feel miserable and incomplete.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to do away with your dreams and goals or stop striving to improve your professional or personal situation. It simply means you can’t be disappointed if you don’t expect the achievement of your goals to alter how you feel about your life.
Choosing to be happy is something you can do, regardless of what you have.
Once Ben understood that growing his business and having more money to buy more toys wasn’t his path to happiness, he set about finding what would enrich his life. To recognize his path to happiness he:
Wrote in a Gratitude Journal. Ben wrote every night about the things that had delighted him that day. He was pleased to discover that his life held many things that brought him joy. He was also surprised to note that they were the things money couldn’t buy, such as reading to his son at bedtime, enjoying the beauty of nature, or cuddling with his wife on the couch.
Looked at his values and needs to determine what was most important to him. Ben then found ways to incorporate those things into his daily life. He realized that his values reflect his personal needs. He understood that when he was being true to his values he was happy. When he acted in a way that went against his values, he was miserable. (for FREE worksheets to help you identify your values and needs, go to our website at www.insidejobscoach.com and click on Resources).
Reviewed his goals to find the personal motivation behind them. For example, Ben wanted to make more money so he could buy a boat and house at the lake. However, when he really looked at this goal he realized that the boat and lake house represented fun things for his family to do together. What will make him happy about achieving these goals is not having the things, but what they will bring, which is quality time with his loved ones.
Gave to others. Ben realized that he was always happy when he was giving his time and money to his community. He noticed that when he was doing something for others he felt lighthearted and carefree, so he found ways to do this more often.
As Ben looked at each of his wants he realized that they all stemmed from just a couple of his deep personal needs. The needs he wanted to fill were those of connection to family and friends. Realizing this gave him the option to choose to be happy with what he had, and find ways to meet his needs without accumulating more stuff.
So, What About You?
Are you choosing to be happy, or to focus on all you don’t have? What is happiness to you? What really makes your heart sing? What deep needs are you trying to meet? Once you know the answers to these questions it will be easy for you to choose to be happy, every day.
It’s something to think about.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience
For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.
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