Dear Fellow ALPHA,
As I look around, I see many people searching for happiness. It seems that for most, experiencing happiness is like catching a butterfly with chopsticks - it’s a lot of work and it rarely pays off.
The UN’s 2017 World Happiness Report found that Americans don’t even crack the top 10 for happiest nations. America came in at 14 out of the 155 countries that were polled. In fact, over the past decade, American’s happiness has been steadily declining.
I believe that a large part of American’s personal unhappiness is due to a mistake in assuming that instant gratification is happiness. And this confusion, leads people down a path full of empty bottles, temporary hook ups and further unhappiness.
It’s a fact, happiness can be an elusive emotion, here one day and gone the next. Sometimes it’s here one moment and then gone the next! It can seem as if once we feel happy, like sand slipping through our fingers, it’s hard to hold on to. As frustrating as this might be, it is more common than you think.
By definition, happiness is a state of mind. Happiness is not a destination or a tangible object that we can purchase or give to someone. It’s an emotion we experience and, like all emotions, it is usually short lived. To reproduce happiness requires a specific set of actions that are designed to move you forward.
One of my foundational beliefs is that we are all designed to be healthy, happy and successful. We are designed to progress - to move forward - to grow from where we are into something greater. This growth includes our emotions, but also our body, our relationships, our mind and our faith. Progress - moving from here to there - is how people achieve health, success and…yes, happiness too.
As I have stated over and over, if we are not making a conscious effort to progress we will unconsciously regress. Wait! I thought this was a post about happiness not achievements? Ok, I will admit that the title of this post could be considered a bait and switch but trust me, its not. The key to sustainable happiness is:
The only way to create happiness is through consistent progression. Happiness is a side effect from our actions. Don’t believe me? Take a moment and pick the happiest people you know. I guarantee you that these people are frequently taking steps to progress themselves and/or others.
If you want lasting happiness in your life it’s critical to be consistently taking steps forward. Since happiness is a byproduct of progression it is essential to learn the steps required for progress to occur. Just like your favorite cheesecake recipe, happiness has specific ingredients.
The first step is to develop a vision for something you want to accomplish. This can be something big, such as a vision for your life. Or, it can be something smaller, perhaps something you want to accomplish this year. It can even be something as trivial as a goal you want to accomplish this hour! The key is to develop a clear picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish.
Once you have your vision, the next step is to develop a strategy to attain it. Developing a strategy is a critical aspect people routinely fail to address. Without a road map, game plan or set of steps to accomplish your vision your chances of success are slim to none. Even many of our daily goals need a strategy to make sure they get accomplished.
This is why people make shopping lists and write themselves notes for the day. A ‘to-do list’ is a strategy tool. Large goals need a similar tool - they need a set of steps written in a precise order that can keep you on track and help you fulfill your vision.
Even with a clear vision and a solid game plan there will be periods of struggle. There will be times when you will need to readjust your strategy or push through an obstacle.
Progress can only happen when we stretch from where we currently are to where we want to be. This stretching requires us to push through obstacles and these periods of struggle develop strength, which allow us to continue taking steps forward. In that moment, progression is achieved. A breakthrough happens in our psychology when we overcome difficulties and the emotion of happiness is the celebration we experience.
The next time you find your happiness meter low, ask yourself if you have been progressing. Have you recently been taking steps of growth? If not, take a moment and set a few small goals for the day. Then write a plan so you can accomplish your goals. Finally, let nothing stand in your way of getting it done and accomplishing your vision. Soon you will find yourself energized and full of happiness once again.
Until next time,
Attack your life with passion!
Co-Founder and CEO, RAM