Have you ever taken a moment to consider if the people in your life are… happy? I am not talking about the image we’re showing in our social media feeds. They are usually full of smiling selfies, sweet quotes, and funny children’s stories. That is what we are taught to project to the world: a curated story of personal success. But what about the everyday happiness level among our friends?
Yes, I get that that the pandemic impacts the very things that most of us use to access our happiness. But what is possible beyond this? With the focus on happiness in commercials, social media, self-help guides, you’d think we’d have all figured this happiness thing out by now. And yet, finding our happy can seem harder than ever.
My point of view is that happiness is always available to all of us as a choice, whatever is going for us and around us. It is not a matter of circumstances; it is a different way of functioning in and with the world.
So, the very step I ask people to take on the happiness quest is giving up the fight to fit in and be normal. Would you be willing to give that a go? Even just for the time, it takes you to read this article.
Below are two keys to finding your happy that can get you started on a new (happier) path.
1. Be Grateful For You
Yes, this may sound like a self-centered or selfish path and it is one of the most important ingredients to happiness: having gratitude for ourselves.
Most people feel happy (only) when they are validated by other people.
However, that validation is actually based on how right that other person judges us to be at that very moment. That means that as soon as we do something they consider “wrong”, the validation is taken away. Basing our happiness on validation is what makes it fickle and beyond our control.
If you know you’re constantly seeking validation from others, start to ask yourself: “What acknowledgment am I not giving myself that if I did, the need for validation would go away?”
The secret to getting out of the need for validation is to practice having gratitude for you and to start to acknowledge you. Gratitude and judgment simply cannot co-exist. The need to be right, or not wrong, starts to go away, and by that, the need for validation by other people. You get to relax and in that relaxation happiness just … is.
2. Stop Judging
The biggest thing I see standing in the way of people’s ability to choose happiness, and the thing I struggled with myself for much of my life, is judgment. So many of us make ourselves wrong for simply being ourselves. We judge ourselves constantly – for not being enough, for not being normal, and for not succeeding.
We’ve been trained to judge EVERYTHING, as right or wrong and good or bad. And happiness is only found in the good and the right – or in the not-wrong and not-bad. This is a game you can never win — even though most of us have tried. Me too!
Let’s say you choose something that does not at all turn out the way you desired. What is the first thought that comes up in your head? For many of us, it is: “I am such an idiot!”
What if, at those times, you instead went: “Interesting choice. Now, what can I choose?”
The judgment is what locks the “wrong” choice in place. And trying to avoid that judgment is what keeps our lives small and predictable. When you start to function without judgment, you just have the new awareness and the possibility to CHOOSE again and to choose something different.
Just remember, losing judgment means not being “normal”; the rest of the world is stuck in a cycle of judgment and you are expected to be part of that. You will find that many conversations just seem to die out when you don’t jump on the judgment wagon of the day. There may even be some friendships that dissolve since they are only based on your shared judgments.
Are you ready to be that different?
Let me ask you this: If your life was not about making the right choices, or avoiding the wrong ones, how much more fun would you have? How much bigger would your life be? And how much easier would it be to choose to be happy?
P.S. For more tips and the full article in Thrive Global, please visit here.
P.S.S. And for more resources, please visit my YouTube page here, and my Tour of Consciousness page here.