When do you feel most happy? Is it in the journey to reaching your goal or is it when you actually reach that goal? When I first launched The Start of Happiness, I created a model that I called The Happiness Model (creative, I know!) which explores how happiness leads to greater success and not the other way around.
Today, we have a guest post from Lanre Solarin who explores this concept further and talks about some strategies to continually experience happiness even when your goal seems so far away.
Take it away, Lanre!
Is it possible to really attain true happiness? Or rather, is it something you should work towards or something you should always have? Following your passion and pursuing your dreams is the best thing that can ever happen to you. But frustration and disappointment is bound to set in during the journey. This is why I believe that;
“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of travelling”
– Margaret Lee Runbek
Your Journey through Life
Life, in its entirety is short, but looking ahead, the future seems so far away for some of us. In fact, for most of us, the hope of actually reaching that expected future decreases as we encounter different obstacles along the way.
You’ve been told to follow your passion. With this inner energy, you then break all bridges leading to your past or to things and people that’ll slow you down. And you launch forward, with all the strength and optimism you’ve got inside you.
But you do all this with one expectation in mind, “I can’t wait to truly become happy”. For some reason, you believe that it is only when you have attained that expected future that you can really live that happy lifestyle you’ve always wanted.
The truth is that happiness should not be a goal, but a lifestyle. Life is too short for you to want to attain happiness. You need to live it!
A trip isn’t interesting because of the destination, but because of the journey itself. Sometimes, if you get to your destination too fast, you miss out on all the fun the trip has to offer.
Here are three reasons you want to take your time, smell the roses and experience happiness all the way through your journey of life.
1. You’ll See Disappointment as Feedback
Failure and disappointment is simply feedback which tells you that you’re probably doing something wrong. But if you struggle through life with an unhappy mindset, failure will become a sign to stop whatever it is you’re doing and go back to your old life.
As a guy with a dominant Melancholy temperament, disappointment didn’t mean that I had to rethink or retrace my steps. I personalized failure, and as a result, regular depression was my interpretation of a “normal life”. It wasn’t until I discovered what I had passion for that I started to see hope at the end of the tunnel. But seeing it wasn’t enough.
On the road to success, failure is inevitable (the gurus have told us that multiple times). But your thought process determines just how you perceive that failure. Someone with a negative mindset would start to “see himself as a failure”, just as I did. Whereas having a positive mindset about life makes you see failure as a sign to “retrace your steps and re-strategize”.
Following your passion demands that you have the hope and happiness that comes with it. Why? This is because although you may not attain that dream as fast as you want it, the expectation of achievement is what then makes you happy. It is having that end goal in mind that helped me see disappointment as just mere diversions off course. This is how it should be.
2. Bumps in the Road Become Opportunities to Explore
“An opportunity is a gift, but it often comes in ugly wrappers called disappointments”
Imagine this scenario:
“You and your friends decide to cross the border to Mexico, so you get on the bus. Halfway through the trip, one of the tyres at the front of the bus goes flat. After a successful manoeuvre to the side of the road, all heads turn to the driver and he says, ‘Sorry, you’ll have to stay here and wait a while. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen because I don’t have a spare. I’ll have to walk back a few miles to town and get something. I’m so sorry.’”
Now that’s a major error! Three things can happen here:
- You can gang up and beat up the driver to a pulp for his carelessness
- Raise your voice at him until you develop a headache
- Get out of the bus and use your enthusiasm and youthful energy to do something fun for the next few hours (don’t ask me what)
Beating up the driver is like breaking the bridge to your future, so that you never get there. Insulting him is like believing yourself to be a failure and allowing negative thoughts to weigh you down. Exploring friendship and doing something fun means your happiness on the inside is not determined by your attainment of certain external conditions, which at present, may not be favourable.
3. You Attain Your Passion with Quality Relationships
Whenever you go on a trip, you always meet someone new. And you can either make this person smile, or piss him off. Following your passion and pursuiing your life goals is like the bus trip But at this point, would you prefer to come down the bus alone, without any friends, or would you prefer to say to someone, “Hey, since we’re here now, can you show me around? Let’s have some fun together”.
Having a bad attitude and approach towards life can cause you to repel everyone around you. In your own mind, you’re working towards attaining happiness at the end of the tunnel. But to the people around you, you’re just one unhappy person who thinks you can do it all on your own.
On the road to achieving your dreams, you need to find fulfilment at every step of the way. It’s this fulfilment that causes you to experience happiness. And regardless of your passion, fulfilment always comes when you’ve made the life of someone else better. It comes with the achievement of purpose.
1. Stop Taking Life Too Seriously
“Life waits for no man. So why wait to get pissed over what it gives to you?”
Being able to see disappointment as what they really are (mere diversions) has helped me see life as what it really is (an adventure to be explored).
For every time you wait to mull over some disappointment or mishap, the clock ticks away. And for every time you take an offense to heart for something done to you by a friend, a part of you feels sad, not happy.
I was once scolded by a friend for “taking things too seriously”. Being the kind of person I was, it was only normal to analyse situations and judge people based on my knowledge of them. But this kind of criticism made me see the imperfections in people and what life gave me in return was constant heartbreak; because neither man nor situation is perfect.
Life has a knack of handing over crap to us. You can choose to stand in one spot and complain about that crap, or you can shove it right back at life and move on with better things. Sooner or later, it’ll realize that you’re not the kind of person to mess with and will eventually give you what you deserve.
2. Focus on the Present with an Open Mind
“Anxiety gets you nowhere. It only gives you something to think about.”
With the future seeming so far off, it’s possible to get anxious along the way. Focusing too much on the future can make you take irrational steps in the present due to anxiety. While it is important to dream big, it is also necessary to think in small steps.
Being able to cherish short accomplishments at different times helped me change different beliefs I had about life. At one time, a short term goal of mine was to be able to “talk with a friend for 30 minutes without getting boring.” While this may sound awkward, I needed to achieve it, especially if I was going to talk with a group of people for hours and still keep them interested. This goal was hard for me on many occasions, but when I did achieve it, it left a mark- a positive mark.
Multiple short term goals lead to the ultimate long term goal. Every short term goal is an opportunity to experience happiness, as long as you have an open mind. Work towards each short term goal with an open mind that doesn’t see failure as a hindrance but as a red light that tells you to stop and rethink.
3. Stay Positive and Smile at Every Little Accomplishment
“Replenish your positive energy every step of the way because no one will do it for you.”
On your journey to success and complete freedom, you’ll need to stay positive all the way (I’m sure you knew that). Positive thinking is not optional. It’s like the background ingredient that makes everything work.
By accomplishing each specific short term goal, you become fulfilled, especially when it’s aligned with your purpose. And when this happens, learn to smile at yourself. Smiling not only gives you the pride of achievement, it also creates positive beliefs, such as the belief that “if I could achieve this goal, then I can achieve every other one”. And for years now, this has been a belief that has helped me build quality relationships. That’s positivity, fulfilment and the experience of happiness in one smile.
For the Comments
On the journey to fulfilling your dreams, what makes you happy? Do you believe that it’s possible to experience happiness even before attaining your desired goals in life? I’d love to know what you think.
Lanre Solarin is a self help author who believes that positivity and happiness should be a lifestyle and not an attainment. You can grab a free copy of his eBook- Simple Steps to Positive Thinking: How to Experience Positivity in the Simplest Way Possible and discover how to guarantee success in your life and relationships.
- The Happiness Model: Why Finding Happiness is NOT the Way
- There’s No Such Thing as Failure, Only Feedback
- 4 Key Strategies For Turning Your Passion Into a Thriving Lifestyle
- The Power of a Smile