By Lisa Earle McLeod
Keynote Speaker and Author
McLeod & More, Inc.
Do you suffer from the “when …” syndrome?
When I get a promotion, I’ll be happy. When I lose weight, I’ll start going to pool parties. When things calm down, I’ll learn to relax.
Or maybe you suffer from the “ifs.” If we had more money, I would be happier. If I were married (or single), I’d have a better social life. If I had better in-laws, I would enjoy the holidays.
We’ve all done it: put our happiness on hold until some magical future date when the big thing that we want happens and we’ll give ourselves permission to be happy. Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. The big thing may happen, and your life may get lots better when it does. But do you really want to put your happiness on hold until then?
Happiness isn’t like the rainforest. You don’t have to worry that you’ll use too much and the planet will perish. Actually, the reverse is true. If you’re happy before you get the raise (get married, lose weight, get divorced, etc.) you’ll be more experienced in happiness and more likely to respond with joy when even better stuff comes your way.
Happiness is like any other habit: The more you practice it, the more natural it becomes.
There are two big reasons why people postpone happiness.
First, we don’t believe we deserve happiness.
Second, we’re confused about what actually makes us happy.
The belief that we don’t deserve to be happy is directly linked to some common misunderstandings about what actually makes us happy. Here’s what doesn’t make you happy: wealth, material goods, or fame. We think that happiness is only for the rich and thin, but one need look no farther than angst-ridden Hollywood to see that wealth and notoriety are not equated with bliss. And lots of research has persuasively demonstrated that once you get past meeting your baseline needs, additional money does not make you any happier.
So what does make us happy?
Research behind the award-winning film, “Happy,” and other happiness projects consistently reveal three factors that contribute to daily happiness:
- Being part of something that offers a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Being kind and helping others.
As you look at the list, which of those things are available to you today, right now?
Chances are, you could experience all three within the next 30 minutes if you wanted to. You could call a family member or friend, pay them a heartfelt compliment, and tell them that you are going to spend a day at the community food bank in their honor.
And you’d still have a few minutes left to thank the universe for all the other blessings in your life.
Look at the list again. How thin, rich, or well-dressed do you need to be have those three things in your life? You don’t have to be skinny, drive a nice car, or even have a great job to experience these three things. Nor do you have to be married, single, or have a big house with perfect kids, or any of the other “whens” and “ifs” you may have been waiting for.
The whens and ifs are mental games, but those games have no winner, only losers.
If you want to be happy today, right now, give yourself permission to enjoy the things that provide real pleasure. Be part of something bigger than yourself, spend time with family and friends, and be kind whenever you have the chance.
Happiness isn’t a grasshopper-versus-ant quagmire. You needn’t live with wild abandon assuming that winter will never come, nor do you need toiling and plodding until some future date when you can finally be happy.
Plan for the future all you want, but don’t put your happiness on hold until it gets here. Start being happy today! You won’t regret it.
About Lisa Earle McLeod
Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies such as Apple, Kimberly-Clark, and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces. She’s the author of, “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud,” as well as, “The Triangle of Truth,” which The Washington Post named a “Top Five Book for Leaders.”
She has appeared on “Today,” and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches.
Click here to learn more: www.lisaearlemcleod.com.