Happiness won’t make you happy. But I know what will…
Happiness won’t make you happy.
It’s quite a thing to say riiight? But it’s true.
Happiness, per se, will not make you feel happy each day.
It’s radical to say this in a world where day after day we are bombarded by books and posts on how to increase happiness. Hell! I’ve even posted on it myself.
And I’m calling myself out here.
Happiness will not make you happy.
So what will?
Mindset and beliefs.
The truth is that you can learn about happiness as a theory all you like. Why not? The books on it are fascinating and written by people who have spent decades studying how we define happiness and how it affects us.
That’s a whole different ballgame.
So what will help us to feel happy?
It’s all about mindset and beliefs.
So if that’s true I want to know about those things.
A happy mindset is one of growth.
It’s a way of habitual thinking and experiencing the world that starts by assuming things are ever-changing. Carol Dweck calls it “Growth Mindset” in her wonderful book on the subject, which I highly recommend.
Here’s how it works.
When your mindset is one in which you assume that things are ever-changing, it allows you a certain freedom to make mistakes. When we feel as though we can afford to make mistakes, then we allow ourselves to play and experiment more. When we do that we open up a whole world of choice for ourselves and when humans feel they have choices……viola! Humans feel happy.
Now I understand that not every choice feels like the best thing since sliced-bread. But take a moment and consider which you’d prefer:
– To have a choice in a situation.
– Not to have any choice in the same situation.
I know FOR SURE which one I’d choose.
Experiencing an opportunity for choice gives us a sense of control over our lives, and control can feel really good.
When we can make a conscious choice to move ourselves towards what it is we want, then we feel happy.
What does understanding the ever-changing nature of the universe have to do with all this?
When we start from a place of understanding the world as an ever-changing place, and we are ever changing in that world, then we also get to assume that every situation or feeling will also follow the same rules. (Humans are great ones for liking to arrange things by sets of rules, whether they actually go there or not).
So, if everything changes, we get an opportunity to be agents of change and the mindset that brings is one of steady growth because we understand that everything can change. And… If everything is changing then we can perhaps, mould some of that change to suit what we want.
The contemplative traditions have been saying all along, “everything is impermanent”.
And what a great thing that’s the case!
When you boil it down, people tend to have two basic beliefs that drive them.
– They believe that they are “worth it”.
-They believe that they are not “worth it”.
At the root of everything we do each and every day, sit one of those beliefs.
And you know what?
As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right”.
Now let me be clear that beliefs are just the ideas we have taken on our the course of our lives. We’ve all got ’em and mostly they are a great big mishmash of ideas from people we knew growing up. There’s a bit of our parent’s beliefs, and some from school or community groups. There’s some we cobbled together from all the books we’ve read, or the experiences we’ve had. At the end of the day all the beliefs we hold have been formed in the past and they directly affect our future.
Let me say that again…
All the beliefs we hold have been formed in the past and they directly affect our future.
The good news is that when you wake up to your own beliefs, you have an opportunity the shift them.
Seeing your beliefs for what they are, “a collection of recollections”, is the starting point to tossing out the ones that don’t let you feel happy.
So HOW can I feel happy, knowing all this stuff?
I gotch’er back on this one!
5 Easy Steps
Here’s a fool-proof way to feel happy in 5 clear steps.
1. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
If you have a hard time doing this remind yourself that when you were a toddler learning to walk, you didn’t beat yourself up about how many times you fell down, you just kept getting back up again and again and again until you nailed this walking thing!
2. Remember that EVERYTHING changes, all the time.
If everything is changing, then you always have another opportunity to make a different choice.
3. Check your beliefs.
Take an hour a week and drag those dusty beliefs out on the table. Toss out the worn ones, the ones with holes and yes…, especially that really, super comfy, covered in paint and beer stains and god-knows-what. That one that you’ve been wearing for decades.The rule of thumb here is ,if it doesn’t serve to support you NOW and make you feel happy NOW , then it goes in the rubbish bin!
4. Do something everyday that makes you giggle or laugh out loud.
Choose something that really makes you laugh out loud for a few minutes each day. Part of rewiring your happy meter is reminding your body and soul what feeling happy is like. The more you allow yourself to feel happy, the more the habit and the belief that you are happy, become a foundational part of you.
5. Do something each day to make someone else smile.*
It’s a fact that when we fill someone else’s happy bucket we also fill our own. So whether you but the next person in line a coffee, or tell a joke to a group of people, making others smile goes a loooong way towards increasing your own level of happy.
* Just to be clear, when I say do something to make someone else smile, I don’t mean toss yourself and your needs under the bus. If you find that you are doing something to make someone else “happy” and you are feeling frustrated or angry or put-upon, that is NOT the point. Go for smiles from others, not making their life better or happier, per se.
I’ve found for myself that chasing my dog for a few minutes always makes me giggle, what about you? What makes you happy each day?
Share, comment or hit me up with an email if you want more info about being happy. 🙂