Most often happiness is not far off, just a little hidden. Here’s how to uncover it.
BY KEVIN DAUM @KEVINJDAUMEveryone would like to be happy. Some find happiness more easily than others. I like to consider myself a happy person. Certainly, I am much happier today than when I was younger. Much of the angst and insecurity of my youth is gone, and I now enjoy life and am surprised and amused constantly by little things that make me smile and feel warm.
Being happier may require years of therapy for some, but for most, a simple change in perspective will do it. The following redirection of your focus will help you uncover much happiness that you may not see in the heat of the day.
1. Focus less on what you acquire, and more on what you accomplish.
People spend a lot of time coveting material things like houses and cars. I enjoy luxury as much as the next person, but my best memories and biggest smiles come from when I am able to stretch and achieve something I thought might be beyond my reach. Begin an audacious goal today and experience the joy when you get there.
2. Focus less on how you impress, and more on how you are perceived.
Making a good impression is important, but worrying too much about your image will cause you to impose and offend without trying. I spend my time on learning to be a better person. I find that most people will respond positively to authenticity over niceties, even when provocative. Of course, that may just be a New York thing.
3. Focus less on what you own, and more on those you love.
I have had good times with many possessions and lean times with nearly nothing. In both cases, it was the friends and loved ones around me that brought the greatest joy. I have never received or acquired an object that gives me greater joy than the company of my wife or my friends.
4. Focus less on what you know, and more on what you can learn.
Knowledge is powerful and useful, but the ability to access to that knowledge is more important than just storing it in your brain. Many of my friends are surprised at how much I am enjoying my Fordham graduate program. The learning process provides context, gives perspectives and fills educational gaps, giving me confidence and gratification.
5. Focus less on what you have to do, and more on what you want to do.
There can be great satisfaction in almost any role no matter how big or small. But desire plays a big part in performance and happiness long term. Making an adjustment may take time and effort, but even making progress towards a coveted vocation can bring joy.
6. Focus less on where you’ve been, and more on where you can go.
History is beneficial in providing safety and perspective on your journey. But too much dwelling in the past may cause distraction and stagnation. Choose a preferred destiny and go for it. The past will always be there with no change. The future is yours to create.
7. Focus less on what you do, and more on who you want to be.
Work is important and most people must earn a living, but the tasks and decisions you handle every day should not alone define you as a person. Determine your core values and design a life that fits with your core purpose. If you remove the conflict within yourself, you can easily be at peace with the world around you.