“Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts
and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought
that is forever flowing through one’s head.”
~ Mark Twain
Is happiness something that you believe will come attached to some future event or special person? Are you postponing happiness until you have the ideal job, live in your dream home, find the perfect mate, retire, or have some other future situation? If you find yourself caught up in these thoughts, you will always be waiting for happiness to arrive, which never will, because those types of events will bring only temporary fulfillment.
Don’t fall into the trap of delayed happiness! By repeating these types of thoughts, you convince yourself that some outside circumstance or future event will bring happiness. This is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves. Be happy now, because that’s really all we ever experience—the present moment. The root of happiness is not connected to the circumstances in your life.
Benjamin Franklin described it like this: “Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.” If you’re not happy now, then you won’t be happy no matter what happens in the future unless you change yourself. You hold the key to your own happiness.
The only constant in life is change. Instinctively we know this, so it is only natural to dream of a future aligned with our deepest desires. There will be hopes and dreams along your journey, each one eagerly anticipated as you walk through life. Focusing on these dreams and goals is a healthier mind-set than focusing on the past, yet do not forget to also stay present as much as possible. Enjoy today. These are the good old times that you will talk about someday. Life is what’s happening while you’re waiting for the future. Experience the journey with joy and awareness, because in the end most destinations are just stepping-stones to bigger dreams.
Not only are life situations not connected to happiness, but neither are people. Other people can’t make you happy anymore than we can make other people happy. Happiness is not something that can be given to someone. Happiness is something that we can only give to ourselves.
Many people have fallen into the habit of trying to fill the emptiness, loneliness, and sadness they feel in their lives by thinking they can buy happiness. They become mindless shoppers filling the boredom of their existence with new gadgets, toys, clothes, pocketbooks, shoes, jewelry, or any other thing that fancies them at the time. They look to the excitement of attaining new things to drown the pain of unhappiness in an attempt to bring passion back into their lives. And it seems to actually work, temporarily. The high of the new purchase soon subsides, and the hollowness that they feel inside still remains, so they begin looking for the next new thing to distract them from the real issue. But in reality all they need to do is to activate the happiness within themselves that has been suppressed.
You hold the key to your happiness,
not special people, new things,
or ideal life circumstances.
Is there something that you’ve been waiting for before you will allow yourself to be happy? Contemplate what those thoughts do to you. Thoughts like that convince yourself that you can’t be happy until something happens. Begin to believe that you can be happy regardless of what the future holds. Begin to believe that you have the power be happy now. Begin to believe that you hold the key to your own happiness.
This exercise is meant to raise the awareness of your beliefs about what causes happiness. Once you can see that some of your beliefs may be based on false criteria, you will begin to believe that you have everything you need to be happy.
Laura Barrette Shannon
author of Be Happy Now book