Happiness isn’t the easiest thing to come by. We’ve all done the affirmations, practiced our yoga, meditated and eaten healthy — and there’s still no guarantee for happiness.
Part of the problem is that happiness is so subjective. What works for one person might not necessarily work for everyone. We can’t follow anyone else’s model of life, because we’re the only ones who have ever lived our own.
My own happiness increased exponentially when I stopped listening to the advice of everyone around me and started listening to what I actually wanted. In fact, following these four simple, but often overlooked steps, I went from a severe illness and complete misery to finding love, happiness and overwhelming success in just two short years.
Want to become the happiest person you know?
1. Define success for yourself.
Success is the pinnacle of our society — it’s what we’re all after. Whether it’s a successful job, successful relationship, or just a feeling of accomplishment, success has become the end goal for most of us.
But what exactly does it mean? In today’s hyper-connected world, where we can see on Instagram what anyone is eating for dinner, we’re inundated with messages about the lives we’re supposed to want. Everyone from our bosses to our spiritual teachers seems to know what’s best for us. Maybe it is what we want, but maybe it’s not.
If we’re going to create happiness for ourselves, then we need to know what we’re working toward. What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?
As we start to pick about what success means to us, we can begin to understand who we really are and what we truly value.
2. Tackle your biggest fears.
The things we’re most afraid of are always the exact barriers that are standing in our way of achieving the lives that we want. Because we wouldn’t feel something as strong as fear if this obstacle didn’t really, really matter to us — and because our fears represent the boundaries of our limiting beliefs. To keep us safe, our body is designed to run away from anything that it believes it can’t handle.
So, when we go after our fears, regardless of the outcome, we prove to ourselves that we are safe, that we are good enough, and that we can keep growing toward that life we’ve always wanted.
Tackling your fears is the best compass for success and happiness.
3. Put yourself in the right context.
Since early on in life, we learned that all of our abilities fall into two categories: strengths and weaknesses. We want to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. But who’s judging which is a strength and which is a weakness?
Albert Einstein once said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Yet that’s exactly what many of us are doing. We fill ourselves with jobs that burn us out, toxic relationships that drain us, and technology distractions that look more like self-sabotage than entertainment. If we want to give ourselves a fighting chance for happiness and success, then we have to recognize that it’s about self-acceptance. It’s about putting yourself in the most empowering situation possible for your particular abilities.
And, in the right context, any weakness can actually be a strength.
4. Savor every moment.
The most detrimental block to reaching happiness is the myth of “there” — this idea that reaching some arbitrary milestone will catapult us to happiness. That finding that perfect relationship or buying that dream house or finally reaching six or seven figures will somehow transform you into the person you’ve always wanted to be.
But life isn’t lived achievement to achievement; it’s lived moment to moment. And, in every single moment, we have the opportunity to decide to be happy or not. We have the opportunity to slow down, to savor the moment. To watch the sunset with gratitude, to hold a loved one, to sip a cup of warm tea, to be still.
This moment is all that’s guaranteed. This moment is all that you can control. And you’ve only got one decision: to savor this moment or not. No matter how crazy life gets, you can choose happiness in this one brief moment. And the next. And the next.
Before you know it, you’re one of the happiest people you know. Because you’re living the life only you can live.