Most people feel relatively happy and successful, and at the same time are looking to become even happier and more successful. It is natural to feel like there is more and to want to move to that next level. It is an instinct that helped our ancestors survive and prosper. The challenge is that many of us don’t know what steps to take to become happier and more successful, or we don’t know the correct steps. See if you identify with any of the examples below.
Have you ever woken up to the alarm and hit the snooze button too many times because you just didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work? Have you ever had that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach where you can’t imagine going back into that office and facing that sadistic supervisor who seems to want to make your life miserable? What about that crazy manager in the other department who makes your life difficult just because she can?
Have you ever left the office at 8 or 9 pm with four more hours of work to do and three impossible deadlines for the next day? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you wanted to cry or hide somewhere? These feelings can be especially confusing, given that six months ago you were on top of the world and everything was going great. Sometimes we feel as if we are on top of the mountain; at other times, down in a deep valley. What’s going on?
Have you ever worked and worked and worked to get a promotion or raise you deserve, been really excited for about 30 days, and then wondered when the next raise or promotion would come? Have you ever gotten your life perfectly in line with your dreams, had everything on track, and then sat back and asked the question, “Why don’t I feel happy? I should feel happy; what’s wrong with me?”
Have you ever felt like what you did just didn’t seem to matter and wasn’t as important as what everyone else was doing? Have you felt like no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t make a difference? Does it ever seem like you are constantly banging your head against a wall and nothing ever changes?
These feelings are all natural and are indications that, armed with a little more information, you can take steps to become happier and more successful. As part of our culture, we learn to chase success as an end result rather than a daily habit. We are taught that the reward for success is happiness, and some day we will get to be happy if we just fight through and spend enough time being unhappy.
Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our actions, but they are not a pinnacle we reach. They are daily habits and practices. They are small things we choose to do every day that eventually lead to milestones of success along a journey that lasts our entire lives. The antidote to the feelings described above is to choose positive actions every day that will help us feel contented and fulfilled, that will help us feel like we matter and can make a difference, and that will help us feel hopeful and excited to get up every morning.
Research also clearly indicates that happier people are healthier, have better relationships, and are more successful. Stress kills. So the antidote to stress, which is the cause for many health challenges, is happiness.
The good news is that there are steps you can take, and choices you can make, to be happier.