You ask, how to make myself happy, focus…
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is not found in finishing an activity but doing it. ~ Greg Anderson
A question I often get when talking about happiness is, how do I make myself happy? I’d love to say to people that after 10 years of reading, writing and studying the idea of happiness that I have a magic bullet answer, I don’t. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that I have my own struggles with happiness. We all have times when we are out of sync, life is complicated by our responsibilities and the people we interact with everyday.
Please don’t get me wrong, I have some answers, the problem is no answer is universal to everyone trying to find happiness. We are all at different places on the path. Some, just starting out may need to first learn to accept themselves, acceptance is crucial and it’s a lesson that was reinforced for me while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Like in life, there are things on the trail you just can’t change, the weather and geography foremost among them. It becomes crucial in life and in our pursuit of happiness to accurately identify what things we can’t change. We need very much to distinguish what we can’t change from what we won’t change, that’s the real kicker. So someone early on the path may need to go through that exercise and start to make what changes they are able to commit to that will improve their circumstances and happiness.
For others, there may be a very clear obstacle to their happiness. Perhaps they are in a bad relationship, either romantic, family or friendship that is killing their happiness. The answer to that person is really simple, get out. Of course, as usual, the idea is easy where as the implementation may be incredibly daunting. But it is the answer to how do I make myself happy. Another answer is often for people to overcome their fears. This is a big one, it often ties into worry which is a huge drain on your levels of happiness. However, what I find when I talk with people about this, is that often people know what they want to do. They know what change they need to make to be happy. However, they are afraid and use that fear to empower all of the reasons why they shouldn’t do the thing, they know would bring them happiness. There are ways and techniques they can use to get there, most really come down to careful planning and addressing what you’re afraid could go wrong.
For those of us a bit further down the line, the answer to the question how do I make myself happy is often a subtler issue. For me lately, the issue is how to find the focus I need to stay happy and even raise my level of happiness?
How to find the focus you need
Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, this is always a really bad thing for me. The hardest thing for me is always getting started on something. Once I’m engaged I am incredibly productive, but when I have a hundred things that need to get I can freeze up, get distracted and generally not accomplish as much as I am capable of doing. In my work life this is a constant problem. I wear far too many hats in my position with too many competing priorities with similar levels of importance. So what ends up happening is you get driven by deadlines instead of the quality of ideas. You become incredibly tactical while losing the strategic vision you really need to be highly successful.
On the other side of my life, I’d call it my personal life, but people equate that to the social side of your life. But what I’m talking about is my plan to change my to make myself happy, or happier than I am now. I’ve mentioned my plans here before, my eventual goal to be able to give up what I’m currently during for a day job in order to focus all of my time on travel, writing, speaking and photography. I have a timeline and a plan in place and there are a lot of elements to the plan, and currently a number that all have to be done before December. Of course there is no real priority to which ones should be done first. So recently, after having my mood a drop I further complicated my brain by looking at all of the things at once. I was bouncing from item to item doing a bit on each but really not digging in and getting started or working productively on any one thing.
Focus. That’s what really was missing for me on this, thinking back to some of the basic tenants of mindfulness it became apparent to me that what I really needed to do was pick one thing and just dig in and get it done. So that’s what I’ve done, particularly where my next book is concerned. I have two books in progress, one a collection of essays on happiness and the other a book of my original poetry. This past week I decided to dig in hard on the essay book and get that one done and published. So the poetry book will come out likely six months later than I had hoped, but I’ve made my choice, not it’s just time to focus and make myself happy by getting the essay book done.
For you in your own life, ask yourself, what competing priorities are fighting for your attention. Can you take one and just focus on it and give it the attention that it needs so that doing what you have to do can help you be happy? I hope so, and I hope you have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
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