The path to happiness, based on being relative to your perspective on being better or having more than someone else, is a path that has no end. It’s the conditioning to being what I have, what I do, and what I make relative to someone else or even what’s available. Happiness is itself a value and not a possession or a destination. It’s your perception and self judgment that has you looking at happiness as a possession or the location at the end of the finish line.
Think about the work that it will take to get you to that perceived level of being comfortable in order to obtain that happiness. Looking at the finish line as the place to find happiness is the carrot at the end of the stick that tells us that we are now happy but only for a moment. It relieves us from answering the question as to why we aren’t happy today. If our happiness lies someplace else that we haven’t reached yet, then it keeps us from having to accept the reality that we consider ourselves not to be happy now.
There has been a noticeable increase of income for the top 5% of house holds in the past few decades. Although the top 5% have had an appreciable increase in house hold income, “Income growth has almost come to a halt for the middle class” over the last two decades. How does that have an effect on your happiness? Based on a poll taken December 2004 among Americans, there was little difference in their perceived happiness. There is a 7% difference of happiness between those with incomes in the range of $35,000 - $49,000 to those with incomes that are over $100,000 a year. Other polls show that “Americans believe that whatever their income level, they need more to live well. Even those making large sums said still larger sums were required. We seem conditioned to think we do not have enough, even if objectively our lives are comfortable”.
With that in mind, take a look at the indicators that you have adopted that may be keeping you from feeling fulfilled and experiencing happiness everyday.
Divesting yourself from achieving goals as your happiness indicator can remove your suffering from happiness relativism.
Here are 8 steps that can help.
1. Count your blessings.
(Start writing down daily what you are appreciative for. Remember 1000 things go right every day, its just a matter of if your paying attention)
2. Practice acts of kindness.
(These should be random acts. When you feel generous, you change how you look at the world)
3. Savor life’s joys.
(Focus your attention on your accomplishments no matter how small. Sit on a bench in the sun and take a couple deep breaths)
4. Thank a mentor.
(Recognize the help someone offered you when you needed it. Be specific and thank them in person if possible)
5. Learn to forgive.
(Let go of energy being spent that reminds you why you aren’t happy. Write a letter to yourself forgiving the time you judge yourself in a harsh way)
6. Invest time and energy in friends and family.
(Developing strong personal relationships that are not about money or status can offer incredible value)
7. Take care of your body.
(Getting sleep, keeping your body exercised and stretching help with doing something for yourself that feels good as a daily routine)
8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships.
(Challenges are going to happen in life; it’s how we grow. Develop effective stress relieving techniques that work for you and use them.