You’ve read all the books, you’ve learned all the secrets, you went to the program and came home with the T-shirt. But something is still missing. When you ask someone what they want out of life, most will excitedly declare, “I don’t want much, I just want to be happy.” Bullshit.
In reality, most of us are so addicted to our problems that we wouldn’t know what to do with happiness if it was handed to us in a prepackaged microwaveable pouch.
Until you rid yourself of the following 6 happiness hurdles, the joy and contentment you seek will continue to elude you, and no amount of front row seminar tickets will change that. So take off your jacket and have a seat. Let’s take a look at why you’re still not happy with life and what you can do about it.
1. Your Mind is Still Running the Show
You must be aware that what you think is not reality. It is simply your reality. Your thoughts, behaviors, and responses toward life are a product of all the information that has been imprinted and programmed (most without your conscious realizing) since conception.
Our brains are essentially amazingly advanced data collection machines, and everything we experience becomes the software from which we operate daily. Your life might look great on paper, but you’re still operating as that shy, insecure, bullied middle child.
Many of the “programs” from which we live and create our life become unhealthy, outdated, and obsolete. And until we take control of our mind and get it working for us, we’ll continue to live the same reality day after day. Our minds are equipped with a reticular activating system (or “RAS”) that filters out information not supported by our current beliefs while letting in the information that solidifies what we already hold to be true.
If you think you’re weak and unassertive, you’ll continue to see evidence of this each day. It’s not that situations don’t exist in which you’re confident and assertive, but your mind won’t record these experiences because they’re not in line with your current frame.
There are a variety of ways in which we can take control of our minds and operate from a system that supports us rather than limits us. Focusing on awareness, positivity, and gradually retraining your mind to see evidence of favored behavior is a good place to start.
2. You’re Stuck in a Competition Frame
Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Are you convinced that you were just dealt a bad hand and will never be as good as the guy next to you?
It may be a hard pill to swallow, but having Kevin from 4th-floor Marketing’s 6’2″ silhouette and chiseled abs aren’t going to mean much to you if you can’t be happy right now.
Being stuck in competition with the rest of the world is extremely frustrating, not to mention exhausting. It’s one of the most depleting things we can do.
Be grateful for what you have right now and learn to find joy in the little things. Surround yourself with people who support you and bring you up, not compete with you for the next rung on the ladder.
If you’re in constant competition, chances are you take yourself a little too seriously. Ask yourself, “What am I really fighting so hard not to lose?” “Why do I feel I need to have these things?” The truth is, waking up tomorrow morning with Kevin’s physique won’t make you happy, it will just have you looking elsewhere for proof that you’re inadequate. And believe me, you will find it. Remember our “RAS?” Every guy who is 5’9″ and wishes he was 6’0″ never notices the positive, confident guy on the other side of the room who is 5’6″. Remember that.
3. You’re Stuck in “Have-Do-Be”
You may have heard the concept of “have-do-be” versus “be-do-have.” It’s the idea that if we acquire what we desire first, then we’ll finally be able to achieve happiness and fulfillment. It is an infectious idea that runs rampant in today’s world and is only perpetuated by advertising.
The truth is the novelty of having something new wears off quickly. Studies have shown how major personal events (both perceived as positive and negative; for example, winning the lottery versus losing the use of your limbs, respectively) will create a temporary change in levels of happiness, but that both return to a previous “happiness set-point” after only a few months.
We invite positive circumstances into our lives by being happy first. If we’re being happy people, we can do more positive things, creating more happiness as a result. Discontent people live each day on autopilot, convinced that if they just had the perfect partner, the perfect job, or their finances in perfect order, they could finally be happy. But happy people understand that having a zest for life, holding a positive outlook, and contributing to others brings about the circumstances they crave, not the other way around.
When you turn life into a hot pursuit for satisfaction, you’re white-knuckling the steering wheel with your eyes fixed on the road ahead. Little do you realize, you’re missing all the exit ramps for life’s attractions; the only things that can, in fact, bring happiness and excitement to you.
4. You’re Still a Victim of the World
Are you quick to point fingers and place the blame on others? You see, there’s little you can change in your life until you take the wheel and assume full responsibility for your circumstances. You’ll never hear someone admit to playing victim, yet they’ll turn around and say “Did you hear what he said to me!? How dare him!”
To the victim, something is always wrong, and it’s never their fault. They recreate the same circumstances in relationships, at their job, and even in traffic. They’re addicted to feeling negativity and to the consequent pity party, they get to throw for themselves thereafter.
The victim is never satisfied because satisfaction is not part of his identity. Complaining, gossiping, and blaming others for his shortcomings, however, is.
You need to take responsibility for where you’re at and realize that no one can ever affect your state until you give them permission to. I once heard a quote that “If you were placed in a room with any 10 people and had to take on their problems, you’d be begging to have your own problems back.”
Life isn’t one long day at the beach. It’s a journey of ups and downs, of trials and uprisings. Some of the happiest people you know have had worse problems than you can imagine.
5. You’re Just a Miserable Person
Let’s face it. Some people are just miserable to be around.
If you’re constantly complaining, bringing others down to your level of burdensome thought, and are never satisfied, maybe you just need to sack up. Find motivation in knowing that things will never change until you’re able to overcome this mode of operation. Don’t be “that guy.”
Bearing this in mind, other energy-leeching tendencies can stem from a combination of factors already discussed, or from external factors such as brain chemistry, past traumas, and lifestyle. Our diets play an enormous role in our brain chemistry and how effectively our brains are able to operate. This topic is far too broad to discuss in this article, but I encourage you to read books such as “The UltraMind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman to have your mind blown (and fixed).
Unparalleled insight into how past pain and ego gratification can run our lives and sabotage our efforts is offered by Eckhart Tolle in his book, “A New Earth.” I highly recommend both of these books if you wish for that all-fleeting happiness to appear on your horizon.
We must also look with honest openness at our lifestyles. Are you laying in bed until noon wondering why you’re unmotivated? Or are you sleeping properly, eating well, exercising, establishing positive habits, and spending time doing healthy activities such as having fun and socializing? If not, what are you expecting to happen? As we’ll see in reason #6, happiness is much less something we have, but rather something we do.
6. You Think Happiness is a Destination
As long as you see happiness as a goal, it will continue to elude you. Happiness isn’t something you work toward attaining. In fact, happiness isn’t a “thing” at all.
Happiness is an attitude, an appreciation, a way of being. When the victim of the world sees a happy person, he thinks “That guy must have it so easy. Not a care in the world.”
The truth is, happiness is a way of handling life. It’s a way of enjoying each moment, appreciating what you have, and not being envious of what you don’t. It’s knowing life is too short not to enjoy.
And still, you’ll hear many people say “I’d like to be happy. I just don’t know how to be.” That’s because happiness is a practice.
Balance out your mind and body through proper nutrition and exercise. Record an appreciation journal or focus on the little things that bring you joy. Get to know yourself at a deep level but don’t take it too seriously. Get out of your comfort zone, try new things, shake up your routine, and experience how much there really is to enjoy out there.
Some of the happiest people on Earth have far less than you ever could imagine. How? Because happiness isn’t something you have, it’s something you are.