Whatever it is you want, however you want to have it, no matter why you want to have it, you can have it faster and easier if you can be happy first, without it. What I mean by this, is that internal control is a much more effective way of going about living a deeply happy life, one that’s not broken apart by every distressing, problematic thing that happens to occur.
“You can’t find joy at the end of your journey if you didn’t bring it with you all along.” – Katrina Mayer
It’s easy to measure success based on a bank balance, a relationship status, or a job credential (or any other label, for that matter), but what I’ve learned is that nothing outside of me can make me genuinely happy for a long period of time—not unless I’ve fortified my internal state of happiness.
Happiness really is an inside job; what we cultivate internally will perpetuate, and the world as we understand it responds to our state of consciousness, to how we live on the inside.
The Way We Live Is the Difference Between a Loving World and a Hostile World
“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
Isn’t it true that the term “reality” speaks a slightly, sometimes absolutely, different language depending on the person who’s communicating with it? In other words, what we see depends largely on how we see.Change our thinking, and problems become opportunities; even tragedy can be a stepping stone. Click To Tweet
It’s also true that how we show up in the journey contributes to how we experience our arrival; happiness is both the means and the end.
Of course, we can and should take pleasure in life’s victories, set goals and have a vision for tomorrow, seek to make the world a nicer place to live in, and surround ourselves with what and who supports our happiness. The outside matters, too. The point is to stop waiting for the external world to bring us deep fulfillment sometime in the future, after we’ve arrived at our destination, after we’ve accomplished that thing, or checked off that task, or married that person, or graduated from that stage of our development.
Life is to be lived NOW. We must be in a proactive relationship with the very qualities we’d like our lives to be filled with, not wait for that fulfillment in form. We’re not simply bodies of reactivity; we are the ones who bring joy to the things, who give meaning to what we do, and who breathe life into what we affirm every single day.
Psychologist Shawn Achor highlights this discovery in his popular and witty TED Talk: While many people assume that the external world is predictive of their happiness, it turns out that 90% of long-term happiness is predicted by the way our brains process the world.Happiness is a way of living in the world, a way of communicating with reality. Click To Tweet
The truth is that by prioritizing the joy of being, good things will happen without us having to force it. We don’t always need to “make it happen;” our task is really to align our state of consciousness with what we enjoy/want more of right now, so that we can walk in peace on our way there.
The best way to perpetuate peace, prosperity, love, and joy is by generating these qualities within ourselves.
Let’s focus on perhaps the greatest success of all: living a fun, fulfilling life from the inside out.
Be Happy First, and Let the Outside Follow Your Lead
“There are two ways of being unhappy. Not getting what you want is one. Getting what you want is the other.” – Eckhart Tolle
Here’s a beautiful passage from Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto, which highlights our capacity for generating the kinds of experiences we want to have:
The greatest of human freedoms is the ability to choose, at any moment, the palette of our emotional sky. We alone activate the very energy and emotion through which we experience life. If we wish to feel joy and gratitude in our lives, then we must direct our beliefs and behaviors in order to accomplish that end. And we must do it constantly, with such force and repetition that those emotions become the hues of our daily attitude. This is not easy work, but let it be our mission.
A strong foundation of happiness isn’t about never getting sucked into drama and negativity, or about always getting what you want, but about building a stronger preference for the treasure in the rubble, the beauty within the imperfections, and solace with the unknown. The courage it takes to be happy first will falter, but if you focus more intently on your comebacks, no setbacks will annihilate joy.
Your ability to sync with joy will grow as you remain committed to sticking with the practice.Opting to be happy, first, is an ever-deepening devotion, a daily dialogue. Click To Tweet
Here are a few daily commitments that will strengthen your positivity muscle:
- Give yourself permission to be happy first.
- Focus on bringing meaning to the things you’re doing, instead of seeking out things that will bring you meaning.
- Ask what you can do for yourself, rather than asking what others can do to make you happy.
- Focus on extracting happiness from common things instead of waiting for something magnificent to walk into your life.
- Cultivate an appreciation for what you have now instead of what you don’t have.
- Every time you feel compelled to list out all the negatives in life, redirect your focus to something that’s going well. Stay with those thoughts until you feel them, and then continue on from this better-feeling place.
Happiness is a practice, which means we grow it underneath our own two feet, consciously and on purpose.
The choice to be happy first—before all goals are attained, before the projects are completed, before the relationships are perfect—largely frees us from the grasp of outward conditions, and it makes the journey a whole lot more worthwhile. You’re deciding not to put your energy in misery any longer than necessary. You won’t put pain on a pedestal, but you’ll put it in perspective. It’s a choice to free yourself, as often as needed.
A Mantra for Perpetuating Joy
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri Nouwen
For some, joy is the easiest choice to make in the world. For others, joy might seem like a nice word, but an impossible reality. The truth is that we all make a decision every day, and in each moment of the day: we choose how we see what we see.
Choosing to stay in constant contact with joy means we must generate happiness first, and not merely in response to what’s happening around us. Though it’s easier to doubt our own capacity to be happy first in the midst of negativity, it becomes easier over time with practice.You may not arrive at your destination overnight, but you can shift course in an instant. Click To Tweet
That shift in direction really is a miracle, when your destination is in each step.
Happiness will become the most natural decision when it has become firmly planted in your mind as a priority.
Post this affirmation on your desk or car dashboard, tape it to your mirror, hang it up on the fridge, keep a picture of it in your phone, and look at it every day:
“I am in a proactive relationship with joy.”
For the next 40 days, begin your day with this affirmation. Make the conscious commitment to choose joy upon waking. Throughout the day, consciously look for the opportunity to choose joy in all situations. How can you be curious instead of anxious or judgmental? How can you slow down and enjoy this moment?
You can either take conscious responsibility for what you’re bringing to life, or you can perceive yourself as a victim to whatever uncomfortable circumstance happens to be here with you.
I know it’s easier said than done, but it is said because it has been done. Rediscovering peace within will invite peace in your relationships. Even though you’ll have setbacks, you’ll have comebacks that bring you even more closely aligned with the bliss of being alive. I fall, but I rise a little higher, standing on more solid ground, every time.I am in a proactive relationship with joy. Click To Tweet
Bless the world with happiness before you find a reason to, and you’ll be blessed with the bounty of what you’ve given.
- Are you willing to practice gratitude regardless of the problems you perceive? How would you start?
- If you were to define unconditional happiness and love, what kind of answers/experiences come to mind?
- If you’re struggling right now, think one thought that feels slightly better: What did you think of?
- Keep thinking similar thoughts until you really feel them. Stay here for as long as you can.
Please share your thoughts, lessons in walking in peace on the way to where you want to be, habits that keep you in communication with joy, how you stay inspired, and any helpful stories with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who you think is meant to be happy first, no matter what comes their way.
Renew your commitment to happiness first; just see how your world responds.