Happiness. What does it mean to you?
I think happiness is one of those things that we can easily feel “lack” about. We say things like, “If my life was like hers, I’d be happy too.”, “When I lose 10 pounds I’ll be happy.”, “When I get that dream client I’ll be happy.”, or some other self-defeating statement. Why do we do this to ourselves? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that we have a lot more control over our happiness than we typically give ourselves credit for.
I recently talked about how a journal prompt to list the top 4 values I hold most dear in my life led me to talk about health and wellness, and why it is so important to me. Another one of my top 4 values is the combination of Happiness and Contentment. So why, and what does that actually mean? Well, I have spent the majority of my life chasing “the thing”. I’m not sure I could have really articulated what “the thing” was at any given point in my life – health, wealth, validation, a particular weight, a certain feeling…you get what I’m talking about, right?
Most of us are always chasing something...but at what expense?
I think that’s where my mindset on the subject has changed. I am still chasing or striving for things, but I am now very mindful of the cost of that chase. As I mentioned in my post about health and wellness, I used to think about work and personal life as separate parts of my life that shouldn’t necessarily interfere with each other – and there was definitely a cost to that way of thinking. I gave up a lot of personal things to pursue work, often at the expense of my own happiness and contentment. I cannot blame anyone but myself though, because that expectation wasn’t forced upon me. It’s who I am – I’m a hard driver who always wants to do my best and get the job done faster and better. In recent years, I’ve had to come to terms with results that were less than my perfectionist expectations because the bandwidth just wasn’t there to do things the way I wanted to see them done. I also realized that my own personal satisfaction and life goals needed to take a higher priority in my life. I knew there had to be a better way…for me…and my way is not necessarily better for you, so please understand that. The point of me writing about this is to get you to think about YOUR life, and the values that you hold most dear.
For me, Happiness and Contentment are at the top of my list these days. I have realized that I don’t need to have the best of everything, and honestly don’t need a lot to be happy. What is much more important to me is that I live each day in a way that I choose, and will feel good about at the end of the day. Sure, I want to travel, have experiences, and live a long and healthy life, which takes resources, but chasing the almighty dollar is not the biggest goal for me. I want to live my life in such a way that I have the flexibility to attend classes at the gym during the middle of the day, spend a week in a different city and still keep up on my work, or hang out on the deck with a friend on a beautiful summer day. This probably sounds pretty simple to you, but it’s what makes me happy!
Happiness and contentment can be viewed differently, depending on your perspective, or the lens you view your life through.
Happiness is defined as “the state of being happy”, and Happy is defined as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”. Contentment is defined as “a state of happiness or satisfaction”.
Can you see how it’s just a circle of words, and you really need to define it for yourself?
There is no universal feeling called happiness or contentment that is the same for every one of us. We really need to take a look deep inside of our own souls and determine what it is for us. My definition of happiness and contentment will not be the same as yours, so the comparison game we often play by thinking we need to achieve the same level of happiness or contentment as someone else is absurd. We are all different, with different goals, dreams, and desires, so our perception of happiness will also be different.
If I can offer any advice, it would be to always look inward when assessing where you really are with your life and your feelings about it. Don’t let the outside world influence or dictate your level of happiness.
Here are a few words of practical advice I can offer to help you find YOUR happiness and contentment:
And above all, please remember that happiness and contentment are a journey, not a destination.
It takes intentional effort to cultivate and maintain Happiness, but I firmly believe that you have the power within you to do that – no one else can do it for you.
The only person standing in the way of your happiness is you! Hear it, believe it, and live it!
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