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A Key Component of a Happy Life

Happiness is contentment in any circumstance.

Image by Silvestre Leon from Pixabay
Source: Image by Silvestre Leon from Pixabay

There are many ways we can explore happiness together. But today, I want to talk about what is perhaps the key component of a happy life.

It’s not about having wonderful experiences. It’s about flowing wonderfully with whatever life brings.

Almost 100% of our energy goes toward changing our external environment and surroundings to improve the direction of our lives. There is a real propensity to think that if things were different, life would go better. For instance, if you are having wonderful experiences, all your focus will be going toward:

  1. Trying to recreate those experience
  2. Trying to stay in them all the time

People sacrifice so much to keep their lives headed in a certain direction, believing that things will remain great. However, there are big problems with this approach to life.

Why doesn’t this system work?

We cannot control everything in our external life. Maybe we can influence them a bit, but we cannot completely control them.

For example, your goal may be meeting your soulmate and having that “happily ever after” experience. And this may work for a little while. You may have wonderful experiences with this person, you fall in love, and then get married. But then life happens. Things change, we have kids, and we have stressors. There are illnesses, fights, and, perhaps, affairs. What was wonderful before is not wonderful anymore. Since it didn’t work, we may try to find someone else.

Here’s another example: In the United States, there is a belief that if you make enough money, then all will be well. You may think money means happiness. You can travel the world, enjoy great meals, and just have a blast. But this is sometimes temporary.

Materialism is not happiness

We all know plenty of people who have lots of material things, but happiness isn’t one of them. When we look for external experiences to make us happy, the problem is many factors can change. This change can make those great external experiences unpleasant.

We may be able to spend $10,000 on a business-class ticket to Europe, and it will be wonderful. But when we get to the airport, our flight may be delayed or even canceled. Or, when we arrive at our destination, our luggage may be lost. Our luggage may end up in a different country, and we may not have it for the first three days of our holiday. Suddenly, this wonderful experience isn’t as wonderful anymore.

Happiness isn’t what it seems

In the last few years, Hollywood has made movies about famous musicians, from Elton John to Freddy Mercury to Aretha Franklin. And more recently, there was the Elvis movie. Elvis Presley is considered the king of rock 'n roll. Can you imagine the wonderful experiences he had, coming from a normal background? He wasn’t rich, he wasn’t powerful; he just went from a singer to a world-class icon.

And in the movie, yes, he had some amazing experiences, but his life, overall, wasn’t wonderful. There was a lot of tragedy, and there was a lot of suffering. If many great experiences were the keys to happiness, people like Elvis would be one of the happiest people who ever lived. Sadly, he wasn’t.

So, if wonderful experiences aren’t going to make our lives great, then what will?

The answer: To flow wonderfully with whatever life brings.

The true path to happiness

This is a hard thing to do, but it is truly magnificent. What we must do is stop focusing on what’s happening externally. Instead, we should put more energy toward changing our reaction and interaction with the experience. It’s about finding something wonderful in all experiences.

Now, your initial response may be, “This is crazy!” or “That doesn’t make sense.” You must control that response. People are going to hurt you or take advantage of you, and your instinct is to make changes to control this. This is a common response. You can influence some things, but there are so many things that you cannot control.

So, let’s say you go to a nice restaurant and you have reservations but they sit you at a table that you do not like. And yes, you can ask them to offer somewhere else to sit, and they may accommodate you, but sometimes they won’t, or they cannot. This is where the trouble arises. When it really cannot be changed, that is where you must decide. Do you want to be miserable or upset?

If the doctor says you have Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer, you may get mad, kick, and scream, but the cancer is still there. And now you must make decisions about what you’re going to do.

You may come home one day, and your spouse approaches you saying, “I’m done. I’m leaving. It’s over.” You can scream, you can get upset, beg, plead, or make promises. But if your partner is done with the relationship, they’re done. It’s something you cannot control.

Happiness: what we can control

What we can control, as stated before, is our response. It’s about our response to cancer, our response to divorce. Those actions we can control. We are somewhat in control of external circumstances. Sometimes, they can cure cancer. Sometimes, through our behavior and choices, we can win our partner back. But if a loved one dies, we cannot bring them back from the dead.

Although it can be tricky, if someone does leave us, we can work towards finding someone else. We can do that. But perhaps right now, at this moment, there isn’t anyone in our lives. If not, we must ask ourselves, “Do I want to be miserable until I find someone new?” or “Do I want to find happiness at this moment as a single person?”

The problem with this is our ability to influence the future, putting all our energy toward what we want. We may think, “Well, when this changes or when this happens, all will be well.” This leaves a sense of anticipation of happiness in the future instead of now. Isn’t it better to put energy into being happy now instead of someday?

We cannot accept defeat

The other thing that keeps us from being happy and living wonderfully right now is we believe that when certain things happen, we’re just going to be miserable and there’s no way out of it. The problem with this approach is despite any example you give, someone on the planet Earth, out of the seven billion people, is going through your biggest fear. Not only are they fine, but they’re also happy.

You can choose to be happy with what’s happening or fight what’s happening. The number one thing you can put energy towards, which will make all the difference, is flowing with your present circumstances.

  • Even if you’ve just lost your job and you don’t know what to do. Well, you can focus your energy on finding another job or changing careers.
  • If your partner just asked for a divorce and you were so in love with them, what can you do? Well, now you’re free. You have an opportunity to meet someone else, more free time, and you can connect more with your children or friends.
  • Even with a terminal illness, some people have started truly living like never before. When loss came, they released the beauty of life.
  • And if you’re simply waiting for an appointment, then meditate while waiting. Meditation is wonderful during free time, and when changes bring more free time, there you go.

Happiness is a mindset

Things may change, but you can adjust to the changes. You can find beautiful things in your new circumstances. You must focus on making the most out of this moment, the present moment. Yes, you can reserve 10% of your energy on trying to change things, but if at least 90% of your energy is spent on finding contentment in the experience instead of changing the experience, that’s happiness.

Happiness is contentment in any circumstances.

It’s not about having wonderful experiences. It’s about flowing wonderfully with whatever life brings.

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