Before writing this post, I was unhappy. A lot had happened in the hour since I woke up in the morning!
Then I said to myself, “If you’re going to write about always being happy, why not try out what you’re telling others to do?”
So I did. It worked. I felt happy.
And then, I sat down to write this – for you.
Wouldn’t you like to know more about an approach that can take you from being unhappy to being happy – in five minutes or less?
Here it comes… How to be happy – all the time!
Why Be Happy?
As entrepreneurs, we’re often seized by the “WHY?” question. It’s sheer survival dynamics. If we grab every idea that passes by, we’ll have little time for doing anything. So we look for a compelling reason before taking action.
Here’s what being unhappy will affect in our entrepreneurial lives:
- Efficiency – It’s hard to get motivated to do something well when you’re feeling blue, lonely and hopeless, like it all doesn’t matter. The simplest action seems forbidding and overwhelming.
- Productivity – Anyone with disgruntled employees understands how significantly this impacts your business. Tiredness, lethargy and lack of focus are all symptoms of unhappiness.
- Innovation – When was the last time you had a great idea while you felt sad? Me neither. Creativity peaks when the mind is agile, active and stimulated – not when you feel dull or depressed.
- Fulfillment – Doing something you love and enjoy gives a deeper sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and doing it happily multiplies this feeling. When you’re unhappy, you lose this sense of purpose and achievement.
And that’s why you are better off being happy than sad.
But happiness has never been available “on tap”, has it?
After reading this, you may be surprised!
“How Can I Always Be Happy?”
There are only TWO ways to be happy all the time.
- 1. Have Whatever You Want
- 2. Want Whatever You Have
Simple things are usually powerful. Like pithy quotes and short parables, the impact created by basic but universal truths resonate through our lives. The more we think about them, the deeper their message gets.
Here’s a simple diagram. I call it the ‘Happiness Paradigm’.
Take a close look at this. Let it sink in fully. Think about it a little.
Then, we’ll talk about it some more.
Having Whatever You Want
This sounds like a nice way to be happy. But let me tell you the story of a Gambler who died. He entered the pearly gates and was given a warm welcome, led to a huge casino, and turned loose.
Happily the Gambler played baccarat and the slots. He won, and kept winning. He tried backgammon, roulette and blackjack. It happened over and over. His winnings mounted.
He grew more daring. Bet larger amounts. And won again.
His excitement mounted – until, after a few hours, he realized that no matter what he did, he was always winning.
The Gambler called out to God. God appeared, and asked him: “What can I do for you?”
“Listen, Lord, I love being in Heaven, but couldn’t I lose just once in a while?”
God looked surprised. “Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you’re in Heaven?!“
That’s how it can be when you always have whatever you want.
Apart from being impractical.
Because, let’s face it, no matter who you are, how powerful or influential or networked you may be, there simply is no way you can have everything that you want (or will want in the future).
The human state being what it is, whenever we get something we’ve wanted badly, our mind tends to want something more, something better, something different. That’s just the way we are!
When you have one decent suit or one pretty dress, you’re happy – for a while. Then, you start wishing you had another. A costlier one. A prettier one. One just like that guy or girl has. Oh, and it would be nicer to have three of them – after all, your friend or neighbor or boss or someone you know does.
Before you know, you’re no longer happy with your one nice dress… you’re unhappy about it!
Pegging your happiness on such an impossibility as always having whatever you want condemns you from ever enjoying your life.
So that’s a dead-end. Let’s look at the alternative.
Wanting Whatever You Have
This is big. Really BIG!
It gives you a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude to everything you already have.
Like, maybe two legs!
If you have only one leg because you lost the other in an accident, you’re still better off than the guy who has none because he was born with a birth defect.
If you’re having something you don’t like for lunch or dinner, you’re still lucky – because many folks don’t have ANY kind of food to eat.
If you come from a broken family, or are going through divorce, or struggling at work, you’re still the envy of someone who doesn’t have what you’re unhappy about having… a family, a spouse, a job, anything!
Here’s another story.
This is about a billionaire. He lost a fortune when the stock market crashed. Almost overnight, his personal wealth dropped by $300 million.
He was so upset by what happened that he committed suicide.
He chose to die because he lost $300 million.
He could have chosen to live – because he still had $700 million!
Yes, this is an extreme example of how perceptions can be distorted to keep us unhappy. You may not lose $300 million… but you don’t have to in order to understand this message.
On a smaller scale, this is representative of everyone’s life – including yours and mine.
We refuse to acknowledge and appreciate our generous blessings and gifts that a kind destiny has showered upon us. Our lives. Our bodies. Our minds. Our intellect. Our upbringing. Our necessities. Our little (or big) luxuries. Our friends and family.
We ignore them all – and focus instead upon the things we don’t have… but want.
That makes us unhappy.
You Can Choose To Be Happy
You have a choice – to decide to want whatever you have.
That changes everything. And it leaves you happy – all the time.
It’s better still, because now YOU have all the control over your state of happiness.
You can choose how to react to what’s around you. To what you have. To what you don’t have.
You can decide to feel regret, frustration and anger at all the burdens Life dumps on your weary shoulders.
Or you can see it all from a different perspective – and appreciate, nurture and treasure everything anyway… because it’s more than some others have (or ever will).
Since writing this post, I’ve had a chance to view this exact mindset in action – by a good friend and role model who recently faced a disaster in his personal life, and is dealing with it like a champ. This friend is a guy you know and love too. It’s Yaro Starak – read his post “The Day My Life Changed” – then think over this message again.
Won’t That Kill Any Ambition?
This post you’re reading came about from a discussion with my little girl on a long drive to the railway station. After listening to me quietly, she asked:
“If I’m happy with whatever I have, won’t I lose any ambition to improve? I’d just stagnate, and waste my talents!”
“Not necessarily” I replied. And explained.
Even as you’re happy with all that you have, you can choose to be happier if you get something else. That new ‘something’ now becomes desirable, motivating you towards it, fuelling change… but with a difference.
You’ll always succeed at everything you try – even before you begin.
Because in one sense, success is about being happy about whatever you do. And being perfectly happy exactly where you are, with only the upside potential of being happier still if and when you attain your new goal, you are already successful!
It’s a frame, for sure. But an intelligent frame for your goals and targets.
True, being unhappy or dissatisfied with where they are in life is usually a powerful motivator for some people to seek to change. Unfortunately, the mindset of discontent usually persists in whatever new, altered life they attain – so they end up being unhappy somewhere else, with someone else, or something else.
Let me tell you one MORE story to illustrate…
The Wisdom of A Gatekeeper
A man arrived at the outskirts of a village, and was stopped by the gatekeeper.
“What do you want here?” he asked.
“I’ve left my village and am looking for a new place to live. Tell me, what kind of people live here?”
The gatekeeper stared at him for a long moment, and then asked:
“What kind of people lived in your village?”
The man thought for a moment:
“Oh, they were the worst. Cheats. Liars. Small minded people. I hated it all. That’s why I left.”
The gatekeeper looked sad.
“You’ll find the people here just the same.”
The man shook his head in disappointment, turned around, and walked away.
A few hours later, another traveller arrived at the same village for the same reason. Again the gatekeeper asked him:
“What kind of people lived in your village?”
“Oh, they were wonderful folks. Kind, generous, warm-hearted. I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could have stayed forever!”
The gatekeeper said:
“You’ll find the people here just the same.”
He opened the gate and smiled as he welcomed him in.
This is a powerful story – because it’s so true.
The world ‘outside’ is just a reflection of the world ‘inside’ us. It’s like a mirror, projecting back to us the attitude, feelings and worldview we have adopted and developed over years.
When we try to alter our inner state of happiness by focusing on external events or possessions or people, it usually fails. Lasting change can only begin on the inside. By the way we think, feel and view our reality.
And then, almost magically, the same things manifest on the outside.
Within each of us lies the seed of our personal greatness. We already have everything inside us to attain it. We have the power to always be happy.
To the extent that we seize our opportunities and maximize our potential, we will fulfill our greatness
And be happy as we do.
But when, instead, we obsess over other people’s achievements, or what they have that we don’t, we tend to lose our inner balance, grow unhappy and desire change for the sake of it – which never brings deep, inner joy.
We end up shifting the arena, never the game.
Instead, play the game.
Play to win.
Aim to be happy… no matter what.