Intuitively I have known my entire working life that being happy is always a much better starting point than being miserable. Not only have I read countless books on the subject (trying to find the magic formula to happiness)and discussed it at length with many clients over the years (who searched for the same formula), I know from my own life that being happy gives me a confidence and an overview that makes things somehow effortless. Yet it hasn’t stopped me chasing happiness and it hasn’t made me immune to the grip of the “IF…Then” trap, that works on the basis of “If this happens…Then I will be happy.” The advantage of being happy is so logical and straightforward that it is the biggest sought after emotion. “I just want to be happy”, so many clients have said to me over the years, picturing some sort of utopia of a heavenly life that maybe, just maybe would be attainable some day in the distant future. And although I have always counted my blessings, I am also guilty of seeing happiness as a future destination rather than a day to day objective.
I am currently reading “the Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor and if happiness is something that you are after, then I would highly recommend this book. What I knew to be true for all those years, although I have practiced it only to a degree, can now be proven scientifically in study after study after a decade of research in positive psychology. Instead of chasing happiness as an objective, it appears that humans perform so much better and achieve so much more, if they ARE happy. The book outlines and backs up the notion that our formula for happiness as a reward after hard work is floored and backwards. Happiness generates success rather than the other way around.
In some ways that makes for uncomfortable reading and the fact that our left hand side of the brain gets satisfied with the data to prove it, makes it even more uncomfortable. After all, chasing happiness gives everyone an optional ticket for misery should you choose to use it. If life feels uphill, or things aren’t working out, then you could always indulge in the grey, hoping passively that sunlight would come to you one day. With the knowledge that happiness generates success, there is nowhere to hide; if nothing else, you can take responsibility for making you and those around you happy and research proves that this can be in the smallest things. In actual fact it is the small things that on a regular basis make all the difference.
So, despite the sleepless nights I endure with a newborn baby at the moment I am managing to stay afloat with the aid of the happiness advantage. I am at the mercy of my baby’s feeding and sleeping times but I am all too aware of how quickly this phase will be behind me. I absorb each gorgeous moment of total happiness, making time (even if it is minutes) to do some exercise, read, write and meet friends. Celebrating the weekend by going on little “adventures” (as my sons call it) to the sea, new forest etc.
My brain and my ego-identity want to run off, set a whole bunch of long term goals and re-define happiness in an even bigger and better sense, but I’m resisting this whilst rolling with the moment. If happiness is truly the engine behind achievement, then all will fall into place. In a way, that is only a small step away from having faith and belief. That is not the same as sitting back and watching it all unfold, but that is actively living your life, happily, each and every day.