The Happiness Connection  

Are you happy?

Are you happy?

That is not a rhetorical question. I want you to answer honestly to yourself.

Pause, but don’t overthink it. Go with your gut reaction. This will be your most accurate response. This is when your feelings haven’t had time to be affected by your thoughts.

Being happy does not mean everything you experience will be wonderful. Being happy has nothing to do with having a perfect life.

I don’t believe perfect lives exist. If someone seems to have one, either they aren’t sharing the truth, or you aren’t seeing the truth.

I’m not asking whether everything in your life makes you happy, I want to know if in the grand scheme of things, you are satisfied with your life.

Unacceptable answers include:

  • life could be worse
  • there are lots of people suffering more than me.

These sorts of responses are common, because you have been conditioned to evaluate yourself through comparison.

That’s how evaluation happens at school. The traditional bell curve and the letter grades attached are all about your performance in relation to everyone else in the class.

You will always be able to find someone better or worse off than you. Knowing this has nothing to do with how you feel about your life. How you feel is not being evaluated on a bell curve.

The only one to consider here is yourself. How do you feel about your life?

Where do you fall on a scale of one to 10? One is a resounding no and 10 is an enthusiastic yes.

Someone recently asked me if I was happy. I wasn’t expecting the question, but without a moment’s hesitation I said yes. My answer wasn’t based on a perfect life. Heaven knows I have my share of frustrations and challenges.

I am happy because I believe I am responsible for my life and that I am moving in the direction of my goals.

Let me draw your attention to the word believe in that sentence.

Life is one big game of perception. The half-full glass is also half empty. The way you perceive the glass is correct regardless of which perception you choose.

Will you feel happier if you believe you still have half a glass of your favourite beverage left or that you have already consumed half?

There is no right or wrong answer. You should choose the viewpoint that serves you best.

For most people, that means selecting the perspective that makes them feel happiest. Worrying that you won’t have enough is unlikely to benefit you, unless rationing is necessary.

For those of you who want to talk about being a realist, you create your reality. I choose my reality to be a happy one.

The above situation would turn on its head if the glass was full of castor oil or some equally disgusting liquid. In that case you would probably feel much better

if the glass was already half empty instead of thinking the glass still had half of its contents needing to be consumed.

It is all about perception.

If you fall lower on the scale of one to 10 than you wanted, I have two questions that may help you.

What is one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?

You can choose a different time frame, but make sure that your goal is something you have control over.

Your answer might be paying off your mortgage, being healthier, or finishing your university degree. Your goal can relate to any part of your life.

Let’s take paying off your mortgage as an example.

If you only just chose this goal, you will need to wait a few weeks or months before proceeding to the next question.

Have you made progress toward your goal? In the case of our example, you want to know if your mortgage is smaller today than it was six months ago?

You can adjust the time frame depending on your goal. It could be a daily, weekly, or monthly check.

If the answer is yes, you will have evidence to prove you are making progress. Humans like to see movement and growth. It helps you perceive your life in a positive light.

If the answer is no, stop to think why not.

Perhaps you were offered a higher paying job, but needed to invest in some additional courses. Your mortgage may not be smaller, but if you are moving towards the goal of financial improvement, taking a small detour won’t stop you from believing you are making progress.

If you chose to ignore your goal in favour of new clothes, a better car, or a holiday to Mexico the evidence of progress may not be visible. Don’t let that stop you from vowing to do better next month.

Your aim is to move yourself up the happiness scale until you are at 10.

Remember, it isn’t about having the perfect life or settling for average. Regardless of the life you have, you can achieve a 10.

This practice of setting goals and looking for evidence to prove you are moving toward them is just one technique to move you up the happy life scale. I have focused on it because it is a tool that works amazingly well for me.

It’s OK to have more than one goal, but don’t get carried away. Too many will feel overwhelming and are harder to maintain. I would recommend choosing between one and three.

Examine your goals at least once a year. Adjust or replace them as necessary. Set big goals and then create smaller goals to support them.

The key here is to set yourself up to see progress. Don’t worry what other people are achieving, this is private road that only you are on. Comparison will not serve you.

This may seem like a topic that is better suited to the beginning of the new year, but you are probably already thinking about 2019. Take advantage of those thoughts and don’t waste time getting started.

Set your intentions today and evaluate them on Jan. 1.

Put yourself into a better position to give a resounding yes, the next time someone asks you if you are happy. Better yet, ask yourself regularly

if you are happy. If you aren’t you have the power to do something about it.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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