Have you ever taken a moment to consider if the people in your life are… happy? I am not talking about the image we’re showing in our social media feeds. They are usually full of smiling selfies, sweet quotes, and funny children’s stories. That is what we are taught to project to the world: a curated story of personal success.
But what about the everyday happiness level among our friends?
Yes, I get that that the pandemic impacts the very things that most of us use to access our happiness. But I’ve looked at some statistics and the global happiness level was dropping well before the pandemic. In Australia, happiness levels peaked in 2003 and have been falling ever since.
With the focus on happiness in commercials, social media, self-help guides, you’d think we’d have all figured this happiness thing out by now. And yet, with World Happiness Day is coming up on March 20, finding our happy can seem harder than ever.
As a speaker, consciousness facilitator, bestselling author, and self-nominated happiness junkie, I have worked with thousands of people around the world to help them find and create their own happiness and have myself bounced back from severe depression. In fact, seventeen years ago, I was so unhappy that I wanted to take my own life.
Today my level of happiness often irks people. It even provokes them. It just isn’t normal to be that happy, that often, and that uninhibited! Many of them seem to conclude that I must be hiding something dark and unresolved, from both them and myself…
Most of us are taught that happiness is hard-earned and fickle. Something we cannot trust to hang around and definitively not something we can just ask for.
The way I am with happiness is not considered normal. My point of view is that happiness is always available to all of us as a choice, whatever is going for us and around us. It is not a matter of circumstances; it is a different way of functioning in and with the world.
So, the very step I ask people to take on the happiness quest is giving up the fight to fit in and be normal. Would you be willing to give that a go? Even just for the time, it takes you to read this article.
Below are four keys to finding your happy that can get you started on a new (happier) path.
- Dare to be different
Were you told any of these things when you were happy growing up?
Tone it down a bit, please.
What is going on, why are you so happy?
Enjoy it now, tomorrow it may be gone.
I am glad you’re happy…
We are taught from a very early age that we have to question happiness and to justify it. Also, we get bombarded with messages every day about all of the reasons why we shouldn’t be happy – famine, pandemics, wrinkles, taxes, weight gain, and so on.
Over the years, most of us buy that a normal person is not happy without a reason. The only right (and safe) time to choose happiness seems to be when everyone else is happy around you.
What if I told you that this is one of the world’s greatest misconceptions?
What if we get more compassionate when we are happy?
What if our gratitude and generosity grow in our happy state, not our sad?
What if happiness is a greater inspirer of change than anger?
When you start choosing happiness, you’re basically firing the automatic setting to normal that has been running life.
You, in the driver’s seat, are on the road to happiness.
- Know what is true for you
How often have you read an article or social media post about the “perfect” morning routine for optimum well-being, or seen the latest self-help book that will supposedly transform your life and make you happy? It’s like they are stalking us, reminding us that something has to be wrong and in need of fixing.
In my point of view, that is a strange starting point, the wrongness.
I am not saying these things don’t work. What I am saying is that you are the (only) one that knows what you require right now in your life. And wrongness is not the best starting point.
The key is to find the beat YOUR drummer plays instead of trying to dance to everyone else’s drummer (or the most accepted/normal/admired/promoted drumbeat in your culture/society/age-group.)
You are the expert on you! You may need some training to start to tap into your drum-beat — and no one else can know you as YOU know yourself.
So how do you train yourself to know what you know? Start asking questions!
If you’re trying to figure out if a particular choice will make you happy, ask: “What is true for me here? (Not anybody else?)”
Another question I like to ask myself to know what is true for me is: “If everybody disappeared from the planet today, or if I arrived at a brand-new planet with no people – what would I choose and what would I create?”
Try it? Ask that question of yourself right now? Maybe even out loud? If you weren’t worried about making the “wrong” or “weird” choice, what would your answer be?
Now, go for THAT! That is the direction to happiness.
- Be grateful for you
Yes, this may sound like a self-centered or selfish path and it is one of the most important ingredients to happiness: having gratitude for ourselves.
Most people feel happy (only) when they are validated by other people.
However, that validation is actually based on how right that other person judges us to be at that very moment. That means that as soon as we do something they consider “wrong”, the validation is taken away. Basing our happiness on validation is what makes it fickle and beyond our control.
If you know you’re constantly seeking validation from others, start to ask yourself:
“What acknowledgment am I not giving myself that if I did, the need for validation would go away?
The secret to getting out of the need for validation is to practice having gratitude for you and to start to acknowledge you. Gratitude and judgment simply cannot co-exist. The need to be right, or not wrong, starts to go away, and by that, the need for validation by other people.
You get to relax and in that relaxation happiness just … is.
- Stop judging
The biggest thing I see standing in the way of people’s ability to choose happiness, and the thing I struggled with myself for much of my life, is judgment.
So many of us make ourselves wrong for simply being ourselves. We judge ourselves constantly – for not being enough, for not being normal, and for not succeeding.
Once I discovered the tools of Access Consciousness, of which I am a co-founder, I realized I’d been spending my life judging myself and making myself wrong for not fitting in with everyone around me.
I judged myself for not being happy with my seemingly perfect life when I “should” have been satisfied with it, and then I judged myself if I was too happy when the people around me were miserable – I couldn’t win!
We’ve been trained to judge EVERYTHING, as right or wrong and good or bad. And happiness is only found in the good and the right – or in the not-wrong and not-bad.
This is a game you can never win — even though most of us have tried. Me too!
Let’s say you choose something that does not at all turn out the way you desired. What is the first thought that comes up in your head? For many of us, it is: “I am such an idiot!”
What if, at those times, you instead went: “Interesting choice. Now, what can I choose?”
The judgment is what locks the “wrong” choice in place. And trying to avoid that judgment is what keeps our lives small and predictable. When you start to function without judgment, you just have the new awareness and the possibility to CHOOSE again and to choose something different.
Just remember, losing judgment means not being “normal”; the rest of the world is stuck in a cycle of judgment and you are expected to be part of that. You will find that many conversations just seem to die out when you don’t jump on the judgment wagon of the day. There may even be some friendships that dissolve since they are only based on your shared judgments.
Are you ready to be that different?
Let me ask you this: If your life was not about making the right choices, or avoiding the wrong ones, how much more fun would you have? How much bigger would your life be? And how much easier would it be to choose to be happy?
Thank you for reading this far. Would you take a moment to glance back over this article? Which of these four keys resonate most with the beat of your drum?
Try that one? Maybe even today?
Now there are many more keys other than the ones mentioned in this article — and some of them only you know! Happiness is a unique quest for each one of us.
Finally, thank you for desiring to be happier. That is the master key.