I used to chase happiness like a dog chases its tail. Except, a dog occasionally catches its tail. For me, happiness was like grasping at smoke.
I was living extrinsically, basing my happiness on the circumstances and events in my life.
I didn’t get that chasing happiness was only putting it further out of my reach.
Happiness Is an Inside Job
Do you suffer from “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome? I used to. I believed I’d be happy when I lived overseas or got that new car or finally kissed that girl I really liked.
In his book The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner expounds on the wondrousness of the Swiss rail system. His description of it made me want to drop everything and head to the Alps.
A hospitality management degree at the prestigious Les Roches takes anywhere from 3-5 years to complete. I figured I could take a lot of train rides in that time.
Who am I kidding, I lose my manners the minute I get hungry, I have no business (or interest, for that matter) pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.
My point here is that I immediately went into “I’ll be happy when” mode upon reading Eric’s alluring account of his Swiss train travels.
Given the dubious state of South African public transport, one can’t really blame me for having train envy.
How Happy Are You?
I scored a B+ on the Blue Zones Happiness Test, so perhaps I’ve finally grasped that happiness is a pursuit in the leisure activity sense of the word and not, as I’d previously assumed, something to chase after.
If you’re serious about upping your happiness quotient, it’s definitely worth taking the test. The recommendations are tailored to your results, so you’re able to get pretty specific about how to improve your environment to maximize your happiness.
Besides, it’s free and takes all of five minutes to complete, so just take it already.
The Blue Zones website is chockfull of useful information on living life well. But if you want more, take a look at Dan Buettner’s new book The Blue Zones of Happiness and check out his interview on the Rich Roll podcast.
The Happy Secret to Better Work
In his humorous TEDx talk, psychologist and CEO of Good Think Inc. Shawn Achor, argues that happiness makes us more productive. Helpfully, Shawn offers a bunch of activities that enable us to train our brain to be more positive.
Because when we’re more positive dopamine floods the brain, which makes us happier. It also lights up the brain’s learning centres, allowing us to adapt to the world in a different way.
Be sure to watch the talk to find out how you can train your brain to be more positive. It’s totally worth the time spend, which is why I’m purposefully not sharing the activities Shawn suggests here.
Understanding that you’re responsible for your own happiness is incredibly freeing. It doesn’t, however, automatically eliminate all of your problems or challenges. It just makes dealing with them easier.
How you deal with them will depend on the problem at hand. Faced with an annoying co-worker or a demanding mother-in-law, you can view it as an opportunity to practice acceptance with a smile on your face.
If your problem is more deep-seated than that, you may need to seek out professional help. Don’t feel bad about it. After all, you’d go to the doctor if you had a physical ailment, right? So why not see someone about matters of the head?
It makes sense, don’t you think? I knew you’d agree. Click here to find someone to help you move past the issue.