The ‘traditional’ blueprint of happiness that we grow up believing usually goes something like this: Finish school. Go to university. Get a job. Find a partner. Have children. Buy a house. Raise children. Retire and then enjoy life.
Vishen Lakhiani, entrepreneur and author of Code of The Extraordinary Mind, explains that we’ve been trained to think about happiness in the wrong way and this ‘traditional’ model of happiness is flawed.
Many of us have fallen into the trap of the ‘if then’ model of happiness. If ‘X’ happens. If I get the right job. Find the right partner. Have a baby. Buy the dream house and so on, then I will be happy.
But that’s a flawed model in two ways. Firstly it puts happiness out side of our own power and gives it to another person or thing such as a house or baby or job. Secondly, when we’re happy we perform better, attract others and in general kick ass in life.
So we need to focus on being happy now and not spend so much time pursing things that you think will make you happy. A common example here is money; so many people say if “I had more money then I’d be happy or then I’d be able to do the things I want to do”. But then when they reach of that goal of X amount of dollars, they aren’t any happier…..so what was the point?
How can you create your own model of happiness?
There are three ways to do this:
1. Set End Goals
Set end goals instead of means goals. So what is the difference?
Means goals are the stuff that society tells us we need to have to get to a place of happiness, such as doing well at school, getting a good review at work, increasing the size of your bank account. End goals are the end result, such as travel the world or have a business. It’s about truly experiencing life.
The goals you set can’t be based on other people or things, they need to be things you can control. An example of an end goal would be “to be constantly surrounded by love” or “to have the most amazing experiences travelling the world” – notice how these goals don’t mention anyone else and are things that are in your control. Because happiness is completely in your control.
2. You become happier when you help others
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
– Dalai Lama
Sometimes people think “how can we be happy when there are so many negative things in life that cause us to feel doubtful, discouraged, pain or anxiousness”? Being compassionate towards others is one way to lessen our negative emotions because we are taking the attention off ourselves and placing it on someone else, making us less self-involved. If you want to be happy then focus less on ourselves and learn to make other people happy.
3. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is getting significant notice in research and scientific circles and it is said that no single exercise leads to as big a happiness boost as the practice of gratitude. The list of scientifically proven benefits for the practice of gratitude include: more energy, more forgiving attitudes, less depression, less anxiousness, more feelings of being socially connected, better sleep and fewer headaches.
Either first thing in the morning or just before going to bed, think of three to five things you were grateful for that day. These can be as simple as a cup of warm coffee or the beautiful weather to spending time with a loved one. If you enjoy writing then it is a good idea to write these down in a gratitude journal.