Forget Being Happy

A common complaint that I hear is people griping about not being "happy." Many of them are shocked when I reply by saying "good!" Others are even more shocked when I tell them that happiness is not a worthwhile goal. Please let me explain.

First off, when everything in your life is going well--all your bills are paid with some left over, relationships are solid, business or work is rocking along--you are very likely to become complacent. The problem with those who are complacent is that they accomplish somewhere between little and nothing. It is only when we have adversity in our lives that we really strive to achieve something worthwhile. Hunger is the driving force that keeps us pushing, reaching, and growing.

Secondly, happiness should never be what you are seeking in life. What you want is to be a fulfilled, fully-functioning person. In short, you want to live well. Here's an example: An alcoholic with a steady supply of booze and no one breathing down his neck is one of the happiest people on earth. That person may be happy but you can't really say they are living well. The tragic result is that their habit will eventually become a liability which ultimately leads to disaster.

Living well requires three things:

Autonomy - The feeling that you are in control of your own world and making decisions according to what is important to you instead of being forced to drift to others whims.

Relatedness - Being connected to the people around you both in terms of individuals and to society as a whole.

Competence - Being able to accomplish the tasks that are put in front of you by yourself or by others. It can also mean being able to consistently grow in your abilities.

Ok, people, I know it may seem outlandish that a new iPhone, big bank account, or luxury car weren't on the list, but let me tell you that those things aren't going to bring you what you need from life either. The more of these things you acquire the more you mentally diminish their value.

I will promise you this, though, if you focus on developing the areas that I outlined above in every aspect of your life, you will not only end up living well, but will also find yourself becoming self-motivated and find the true meaning of being content and, yes, even happy in your life.

My challenge for you this week:

Take an honest look at your life and assess each of the three areas to see which ones you need to work to improve.

  1. For each area listed above, decide where you are unsatisfied, satisfied, or excelling.

  2. For the areas you deemed anything less than excelling, write down the actions you will consistently take to advance them.

  3. If you don't know how to do this, commit to learning through a coach.

Always remember that the best project to take on is improving yourself.

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