I know the secret to happiness. I know it because I am abundantly happy every single day. I can confidently state this because I have created a life I am in love with.
Let me tell you a little about what happiness means to me. This past Saturday, I woke up early and drank coffee with my husband, which is a sacred weekend ritual. I had an early appointment with a client who is nothing less than an extraordinary person and a complete delight to be around. When I arrived home my incredible husband had arranged the delivery of several yards of amazing compost for my vegetable garden. I spent the rest of the day shoveling and wheelbarrowing the compost into my garden beds on a gorgeous sunny day.
I spent the entire day doing things I love with people I adore. Yes, it was back aching labour, but that day held the secret to happiness for me. My husband was in his shop working on cars, the dogs were in the yard getting up to no good and making us laugh. I was completely present and enjoying the moments of warm sun and the manual labour that reminds me of my days as a farm girl.
The secret to happiness is already in your hands. You must define it for yourself. Remember earlier when I said “I have created a life I am in love with?” This is the key. I am in the driver’s seat of my life and everything that is in my life is by my choosing and is adding value. The power lies in your ability to choose. When you come to the place of acknowledging that you are creating your reality you will begin to understand the secret to happiness.
What Do You Believe?
This may be a good time to bust out a pen and paper. As a coach, I ask a lot of questions. These usually lead to more questions, but when we can be in a state of curiosity, we can gain immense insight into how we are participating in our reality. The secret to happiness for you may just lie in the answers to the following questions:
- What do you believe about happiness?
- How do you define happiness?
- Where did you learn that you can’t be happy all the time?
- How are you participating in your life?
- How are you not participating in your life?
The Roadblocks to Happiness
Why can’t we be in a state of happiness? What prevents us from fully owning our joyful lives? There are some fundamental barriers that oftentimes prevent us from fully owning our happiness.
- Waiting. Life’s pause button. This one is huge! I have played the happiness waiting game in the past. This is the belief that you will be happy ‘when.’ Let me dispel this myth right now. You will not be happy when you have more money, have achieved a certain size, live in a house with a particular floorplan, postal code or number of bathrooms. That is a dangerous trap to allow yourself to be in because it simply moves the goalpost or marker of happiness further away. The secret to happiness does not lie in the external trappings of your life, it lies in the way you choose to show up every single day.
- Living someone else’s life. I recently wrote about this and again, I speak from experience. I believed that I would be happy when I achieved a certain number of items on the “How To Live a Good Life” checklist. The problem with that approach is that it was not my checklist. Hopefully I can save you some salaries and calories by telling you that no amount of external accomplishment will ever replace the deep well of happiness that you already possess inside you. I am not saying that achieving goals isn’t admirable and won’t bring a sense of pride, but it isn’t the thing that will make you fundamentally joyful.
- Comparison. We live in a time of comparison. We are inundated with the highlight reel of everyone else. The secret to happiness is to stop comparing your life to the lives of the people around you. Go back to your definition of happiness. Were you able to articulate what makes you happy? Note, if you heard the word ‘should’ pop up, that is a red flag and implies that someone else’s voice is in your head. What makes YOU happy is not going to the be the same as someone else and that is amazing, wonderful and the best part about being a human with your own mind. Comparing your life to someone else’s highlight reel or version of happiness is dangerous and will prevent you from being truly happy.
- Living in the Past. Are you holding onto something that is long past it’s expiry date? Are you hoping to return to the relationship, house, job, body you used to have? Let me be honest, that isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, those things aren’t waiting for you. They have moved on. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn the lessons that you were meant to learn, but continuing to hold on to things that have long been over will keep you stuck and unable to live fully in the present moment.
- Worrying About the Future. Are you sensing a theme? I used to be a Grade A worrier. Even thinking about how much I used to worry about stuff so far beyond my control, brings tension to my jaw. Worrying will immediately suck the happiness out of your life. It is natural to worry about the people that you love, their wellness and happiness, but when worrying becomes a chronic condition that prevents you from living your life, therein lies the work.
The Secret to Happiness
Did you think I was just going to leave you with all the reasons you may not be happy without giving you a game plan to take action?
You may have guessed the secret to happiness that I am going to share with you from numbers 4&5 above: live in the present moment. Once again, I come back to the power of choice. You must choose that you are not going to wait a moment longer to be happy. Being very honest with yourself about how you are waiting, comparing and living out of alignment with your definition of happiness is the key to creating a joyful life right now.
The present moment is the only thing that we are guaranteed. If you have ever felt the pain of losing someone before their time, you may know how precious our time is. Tuning into the abundant love and joy that surrounds you right now is a secret to happiness.
One of the most powerful tools that I use and that I teach my clients is the power of gratitude. It is impossible to be in a state of lack when you are saying thank you for the blessings in your life. If you are reading this on a smart phone or a computer, you have multiple reasons to be thankful (means to purchase those items, the internet that brings them to you, the intellect and education to judge my run-on sentences). When you say thank you for what you have in your life you shift your energy from a place of waiting or comparison to a place of abundance. Practicing gratitude is a fundamental secret to happiness.
The Learned Beliefs
Where did you learn that you can’t be happy all the time? Who taught that to you? Who made you believe that you need something to be happy? If you were taught that, then you can learn something new. Your mind is incredibly powerful and when you see that you have the power to define what it means to be happy everything will change. And just in case you are still holding onto some belief about happiness that isn’t true, know that joy is your birthright.
The Power of Energy
You can be happy right now. The true secret to happiness is to take your finger off the pause button and decide to be happy. This doesn’t mean it happens overnight, but it is the first step. When you decide to be happy, happiness finds you. You create an energetic reaction that is utterly powerful. And let me tell you something about the secret to happiness: it doesn’t go away. Once you have learned to define it for yourself, have tuned into the abundance you already have and are taking action to live your life in alignment with your version of happiness, it just keeps coming.
We are the creators of our reality and the captains of our ships. Happiness dwells in authenticity. My utterly joyful Saturday may have felt like torture to some, but I couldn’t stop the happiness from overcoming me.
This is your life. How can you decide to live your version of happiness right now?