I grew up in a culture where people recited an unwritten mantra that sounded something like this, “I will be happy when I can… if I can…”
This mentality, as you can already tell, comes with undercurrents of scarcity. You can see that, right?
The future.Oh, the anticipation of that day!
Oh, the happiness you’ll experience then!
This is what emotion researchers call the hedonic treadmill. It’s something they say we do; working very hard to reach a goal that will result in happiness. Later.
The unwritten argument carries logic. It validates the wise ones, you, for having the temerity to know there will come a time better than now.
For sure, life has to be more than this.
Certainly, when and if whatever it is you see about-to-happen in the future happens, that is sure to transform you into the happiest you’ve ever been.
And then you’ll enjoy living.
The logic gives the illusion of hope. You see that too, correct?
The optimistic bias feeds this logic. Want to know more, read all about it in the link. It talks about us thinking of ourselves as rational creatures and gives evidence for why our brains operate this way.
Rational creatures, that we are, why do we tend to think that our future will be better than our present? As if happiness was something to attain later?
Why shouldn’t you want to be always happy? Starting now?
Disillusion sets in
The impetus of the mantra starts with that goal in the future. But then you’d reach the ‘when and if’ condition and disillusion would set in. You come to discover that the promised happiness is elusive.
… something unreachable, unattainable in this lifetime. What do you then?
Don’t give up
“Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show.” ~(Pope Francisco) Homily / Sermon.
Happiness is a worthwhile goal. Those in poverty tend to believe that wealth brings happiness. The rich might think that giving it all away is the way to happiness. The truth — neither is correct.
“Perversely, such efforts to improve happiness could be a futile attempt to swim against the tide, as we may actually be programmed to be dissatisfied most of the time. ‘You cannot have it all’. Part of the problem is that happiness isn’t just one thing.” ~ Business Insider
“Happiness isn’t just one thing.”
Happiness is a Muscle
Think of all the things you know about muscles and apply that knowledge to enhance this message.
If you’ve been exercising that muscle for a while now, then you already belong to the happy crowd. I commend you. I respect you.
Happiness begins the moment you begin. It also keeps on growing the more you flex it.
Keep at it.
If you have yet to start, I want to assure you that you already have a list of tools at your disposal to get you started. These are not new. But today I invite you to see them in light of a muscle. These are the same ones that have helped me to grow my own muscle.
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.’
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.”
1. Be grateful
- Feel grateful for the things you already have. Utter appreciative words, no matter how small the ‘thing’ is. Understand that the things you have and probably take for granted might very well be the things others have on their ‘when and if lists’. Appreciate what you already have.
2. Be mindful
- There are others besides you on the planet, in your town, in the store. Acknowledge them. Practice kindness and compassion. Be an ambassador for the kind of mindset you believe in.
3. Carve a way to find the middle ground
- The middle is a good place to pivot. From that point try to show appreciation for the things you’ve achieved, and wherever you can, share some of the shareable things you have today. Tomorrow you might be the recipient.
4. Don’t be wasteful
- Consume but don’t overindulge. Overstocking is wasteful too. Remember minimalism? Always consider where things end up. You’ll be happier when you do this.
- Please smile. Give that away if you have nothing else to give. Many times, a smile is the best thing you can give. You’ll see how happy receiving one back will make you. Smile to yourself too. You’ll see how things start to feel differently after you smile.
6. No, and Yes
- You need to be able to say ‘No’ to stressful commitments that drag you down. Adulting comes with obligations. If you can choose, choose wisely, at the right time. Learn to recognize when the right time is. At the same time, try saying ‘Yes’ to those things you’ve always said no to too often. Again, when the time is right.
- Exercise this human prerogative to rid yourself of toxic relationships that rob you of happiness.
- Getting enough sleep should be a priority you should never overlook. Can’t, no matter what — find a way to remedy this. Sleep affects every area of your life. Make good night sleep an essential in your life. Every night.
8. Don’t skip meals
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner are meals. Snacks — practice your ‘yes-no’ muscle then. The point is to be healthy.
9. Find the good in every situation
- Train yourself to look for something good in everyone and everything. If you feel like it, say something nice out loud to someone else. Do it just because but with honesty. And to yourself, be gentle.
10. Be present
- In your day, be present. Don’t lose sight of the small things. Learn to savour them. The past is over; the future is tomorrow, focus on right now all through the day.
- Notice the thoughts that arise. Attend to them. Cross them off your list.
Pay attention to how your life is unfolding right now. Be mindful and present.
11. Be reverent
- let the purity of the child that lives within you show you the awesomeness of life. Life is an incredible show and you deserve to live it in happiness.
Everyone, no matter their background, creed, or culture, can benefit from happiness. Happy people are good for the environment and a joy to have around. Flex your happiness muscle right now.
Right now is the only time that exists.
I hope this has added value to you.
Start small and one day when you hear yourself saying, “Isn’t this great, right now?” you can thank your happiness muscle for getting you there.
Here’s looking at you and your happiness. Right now!
THANKS FOR READING
I Wish You Miracles.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. All that matters is where you’re going.” — Brian Tracy.
Selma’s beginning can be traced back to her hometown of Belize, in Central America where everyone will remember her as the shy, obedient, oldest daughter of a small-town tailor and a seamstress who catered mostly to brides and grooms.
Today she lives in a small suburb, an hour and a half south-east of Tokyo, with her Japanese husband with whom she raised two little boys.
Selma has lived in Japan for thirty years. Twenty of those she spent as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher to children. She retired from teaching three years ago.
Reading has always been her hobby but truth be told, she has yet to read the classics.
She also loves writing letters mostly to imaginary people since, apart from writing to her mother, she didn’t have a repertoire of like-minded friends.
In the spring of 2017, she started writing short stories at The Write Practice, an amazing writing community she is happy to belong to. In their company, she managed to complete the first draft of a novel that she felt ‘was-not-so-bad.’ Two rewrites later, the story is not working the way she would like it to. Today, she has dismantled that story in order to reassemble it for more clarity.
Selma is an enthusiast: of life, friendship, and nature; of goodness, kindness, mindfulness, and of the divine order of ordinary things.
Ask her where she’s going and she’ll tell you she’s going higher.
Selma has been a supportive influence on me since I started writing. She is a deep thinker and writes articles, that demonstrates her caring nature. This gives her articles a unique twist which I love. I look forward to reading her articles and always feel brighter and more positive after reading them.