Going Directly to Happy


Most of us have at some point come to realize that happiness is found within. Living our lives as if that were true can be a whole different story. We receive so many external messages extolling the virtues of all kinds of things outside ourselves as the source (and necessity) of our happiness. Moreover, we have internalized so many messages that link external factors to our happiness.

In addition to all the various advertisements and social pressures to have the right relationship, drive the perfect car, smell just right with deodorants, perfumes and the like, and work in an acceptable career, at an acceptable pace of upward mobility, we now also have our social media profiles to maintain. Of course, we are at choice with all of these and this is where we get to check in with ourselves to see where we are placing our attention and energies.

On a trip to Ghana, West Africa 15 years ago, one of the most common observations of my fellow travelers was how the local members of our host community seemed so much happier than us even though they had so much less materially than we did.

It begs the question: why not just go straight for happiness? Since happiness is found within and that’s ultimately what we all want, why not bypass all the external things we desire, and sometimes crave, and just go straight for happiness?

I have a banner on my wall at home that contains the following quote from the Chinese philosopher, Confucius: Life is simple. We make it complex. Interestingly, Confucius was writing around 500 BC.

Looking at life simply, we could choose to be happy and then just enjoy whatever good comes to us, as well as what we call challenges. I remember one particularly difficult year in college. This particular day it was my birthday. Despite the whirlwind of activity around me, I decided that because it was my birthday I was going to have a great day no matter what happened. And I did! While I have continued to learn this lesson of choosing happiness over and over again since then, it is a reminder that happiness truly is found within and is a choice.

No matter how much we achieve or acquire in the world, it is still up to us to decide when it’s enough. Usually, if we are externally focused, it is never enough. The happiness is only momentary, until we think of the next thing we need to make us happy.

When our focus is internal, and we recognize happiness as a choice, and one that is really about how we look at our life, then we can be happy in almost any situation. We can be happy with a lot of money or a little money, being in a relationship or single, and with a luxury car or a bicycle.

The invitation this day is to go straight for happiness. Perhaps for one day to start, decide to be happy no matter what happens.

Enjoy the journey.

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