Have you checked recently how many blog posts and articles are out there about happiness? “Do These 10 Things and You Will Be Happy” or “5 Reasons You Are Not Happy.” Many of these articles are helpful but most are missing an important aspect – how we think about happiness.
Happiness and Success are Not the Same Things
We judge happiness by looking at the lives of others and measure our own lives through that lens. We are the sum of what society gauges as a success. Do our friends, family members, colleagues, and our peers see us as successful? Do we have the right job or career, the house on the hill, the newest and best car, toy, or whatever other measurement is used? If we have these things we must be happy – right? And if we don’t have these things we can’t be happy.
We measure ourselves on how high on the totem pole we have risen, how much money we have in the bank, stocks, or funds, or even how great our holiday light display is, we must have more lights than anyone else!!!
Our Measurement Tool Is Faulty
We measure our success by measuring ourselves against other people. When we do this, we rob ourselves of being happy. We are chasing moving goal posts. When we check off one box, we look up and see others have upped the ante and off we go again chasing the elusive holy grail. We do this over and over again because we want people to like us. We want them to look at us and say “Wow, Janet or John, is so successful! Look at all they have done, look at all they have!” Unless you really want to remain unhappy, stop finding your worth and affirmation in other’s approval. You will never get enough approval from others, so quit trying.
Happiness is a Choice
Yes, you read it right – happiness is a choice. Only you can make that choice. Happiness is not created externally. Sure, being comfortable, having a good income, and being able to do fun things, helps a sense of pleasure or well-being. But in themselves, they will not create happiness for us. Each day we have the freedom to choose what we will focus on. We can choose to give meaning to each day. Sometimes happiness will be a conscious effort. It is not a forced ooey-gooey positive affirmation (although positive affirmations can help) but more a conscious focusing on the present, of finding happiness right where you are, with what you have right now.
Today is the Only Day That Matters
Yesterday is past, there is nothing you can do to change it. Tomorrow is out of your control, you can plan and prepare, but you have no guarantee what the day will bring. You only have the present.
In Exodus 16:15-20 God rained down manna daily for Moses and the Israelites. He gave them only sufficient manna for one day, and if they gathered more than needed it turned rancid by the evening. Perhaps the metaphor here for us is that each day is sufficient in itself. There is nothing we can do about yesterday nor tomorrow, we only have the moment we are in right now.
Stop looking at what others are doing, let them find their own happiness. Be happy for them when they succeed – that is their path. Look at where you are now, today. If you are alive, if you can draw breath, then you have a reason for being happy. If we could stop living in the past, and quit rushing towards the future, we might allow ourselves to enjoy today. We might find that today is okay, that I’m okay, that today is okay because I choose to make today okay.
Happiness is a choice. What choice will you make today?