The Path to Happiness
What if I said we have everything within us to live a life beyond our wildest dreams. Would you believe me?
For many, we feel we need something to make us happy, a new job, a new relationship, more money. The fact is, although we may like having these things, they won’t make us happy. We can decide to be happy with them, or without them because our happiness will not come from the outside, our happiness will only come from within.
We are physical beings run by our emotions, we only need to think of our friend who turns into the Incredible Hulk when they get ‘hangry’ or how we feel when someone cuts in-front of us when driving home in rush hour.
If we are run by our emotions, how can we control our emotions? Diet and hydration play a big role in ensuring our body is in balance, but ultimately it’s the questions we ask ourselves during our internal dialog that effects our emotions. Think how you continue to be annoyed or upset after the argument has finished, no new words have been spoken, but you continue to relive the argument in your head, this time spinning your own reality into the conversation in your own Hollywood blockbuster style movie – I know, because we are all the same, we’re human.
It’s the origins of the saying; ‘there are three versions of the truth; yours, there’s and actually what happened’!
We don’t experience reality, we experience our own interpretation of reality and we interpret reality through our own emotional filters. You want a great reality, we need to clean up our filters.
We can start cleaning up our filters by using a better internal dialogue, being kinder to ourselves and asking better questions. Rather than saying ‘this is not fair’ or ‘why does this always happen to me?’, try asking ‘what could be good about this situation?’ or ‘what would need to happen for me to have an amazing year?’
Just like asking a poor question occasionally doesn’t have much of an effect, neither does asking great questions occasionally. We need to cultivate a habit which supports us to consistently ask better questions.
Successful athletes and business leaders know the importance of having a clear vision of their future, what it is they want to achieve, and the direction of their career. So why would it be any different for you and me? This is why I spend the first third of my book, The Money Plan on developing a compelling vision statement.
A compelling vision is a statement about our ideal self, how we want to live our life. Ask yourself, ‘How do you want to live the rest of your life?’ Write it out without limits, but consider the implication of your choices, do you really want this, will it really bring you happiness?
For many of us, where we are today, and our compelling vision are worlds apart, so we need to bridge the gap between now and what you desire. We do this by setting destination markers, or outcomes. A 10 and five-year outcome tend to be more visionary, then the 36-and 12-month outcomes are more specific and clearer.
If we don’t decide how we want to spend the rest of our life, someone else will decide for us. It’s like a ship in the ocean without a sail or rudder, it will be directed by the environment, irrespective on where you want to go.
Waking in the morning to a coffee, getting in your car and going to work, returning to watch TV is absolutely fine, if that’s your outcome. But if making Starbucks the best coffee producer in the word, supporting your boss to run the best company he or she can and supporting Netflix to create global entertainment domination is not your outcome, then you need to ensure you steer your rudder to your outcomes and compelling vision.
I’m often asked how to set goals and I believe to create a happy lifestyle your goals need to be aligned with your values i.e. what it is that is important to you in life.
Ask yourself this question ‘what’s important to you in life?’ write down everything that comes to mind, one-word answers or full sentences, just continue writing until you can’t write anything else down. Then ask yourself, is there anything else?
Once you have exhausted your replies, cross off anything you really did not mean and prioritise the remainder, asking what’s more important, this or this.
You will be left with you values for life, in order of importance. Base your goals around your top five values, and ensure you keep these under review as they will change. Make your goals ‘self-controlled’ what I mean is you are in control of them. You can’t make another person fall in love with you, so don’t set this as a goal, but you can put yourself into the situation where chemistry may work. You can’t control the bathroom scales, but you can control what you put into your mouth, and the workouts you perform. You can’t control the stock-market returns, but you can control what you save and the investment risk you expose yourself to.
Life is a journey, which we need to enjoy, it’s not the destination. Precious time is running out for all of us, so be kind to yourself and live life on purpose.