Happiness has been a sincere pilgrimage for me, and no doubt for many others who have decided to grow consciously in the direction of a more deeply-felt life. In honor of you who are also walking this way, I’ve collected a few (well, seven) lessons about happiness. These are just pieces of a bigger puzzle, part of a larger practice.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
I’ve surely learned a lot about happiness over the past few years of writing about healing; the two themes, for me, seem to be entwined.
The opening quote for this post continues to be a favorite of mine because it illuminates happiness as a way of walking, a direction and something that requires our presence. We don’t need to wait until we arrive or achieve or acquire to more fully participate in joy; we can unearth it in each step taken with love and gratitude. That, to me, is pretty fascinating and very much good news.
I’ve been thinking about the lessons I’ve extracted from my own journey, and though I tend to offer my insights all along the way here, I wanted to write something specifically about a few key lessons—seven, to be exact.
7 Lessons about Happiness That I Can Personally Attest To
1. Attitude is more important than most other things when it comes to improving your life or achieving goals.
It’s more important than the past, education, money, appearance, ability, skill, circumstances, failure and success, and what other people think. It will make or break a business, a home, a friendship.
I can’t change my past. I can’t change the actions or opinions of others—but if I change my attitude, everything else somehow changes.
2. Facing fears builds the courage to change and continue.
All experiences are as they are and we humans are gifted with the capacity to define the significance of any given experience. We can label one as bad, tragic, painful, arduous, negative, unfair, unwanted, or anything else. Fear is a perception lacking in love, which could mean there’s a shortage of hope, appreciation, trust, clarity, patience, or something else.
Everyone sees life slightly (sometimes radically) different. That’s a recipe for a fearful world, a lot of misunderstood people and overlooked opportunities for love.
Accepting that our perception plays a part in how we experience life, we can learn to open up to painful situations and go deeper. We’re capable of transcending the fear and responding to it with love anyway, creating a new reality for ourselves, but that’s a lot easier if we see what’s going on. Meeting fear, discomfort, procrastination, anxiety, and hatred and seeing it for what it is, for what it’s lacking, we can rise to contribute that very thing that’s missing.
Long story short, it takes courage to call out our perceived fears, but that’s how we perceive something new. It’s easy to ignore what hurts; it’s harder to rise above it.“You cannot rise without recognizing what you are rising from.” — Athena Las tweet this
3. The feeling is rarely as painful as our fear of feeling the feeling.
When you let yourself be absolutely present with the painful feeling, what is there to run from? You’re bound to move through it (which is the only way to move beyond it) if you stay with it long enough and sincerely enough.The deeper we feel, the more we reveal. tweet this
4. Contrary to what the thoughts tell me, I’m not my thoughts.
The thought “I’m having thoughts” may be one of the most important thoughts we can have, because it’s a recognition that we can’t be measured solely by the quantity or quality of the thoughts. I feel something deeper going on because a thought can be changed but when it’s changed “for the better” I don’t feel like a different person; I feel like a layer that wasn’t me to begin with was stripped away.
I do think that our thoughts direct the way we perceive and live our lives, and therefore they’re vital to who we perceive ourselves to be (among other things). Yet, still, there seems to be more to me than the repetitious nature of thought matter.
I was not born with these thoughts. I learned them. If I unlearn certain unhelpful thoughts, who might I be then? Who might be revealed—perhaps, a truer me?
It’s a relief to consider how much closer to home I feel when I am in the stillness of the moment, free from thought—not necessarily because there are no thoughts in my head, but because I’m not attached to them. When I am free, I am happy. Every single time.“We are infinitely more than our limitations or afflictions.” — Jeffrey R. Holland tweet this
5. We don’t need to be perfect to start anything.
We just need to be willing to do something different, and be curious enough to see what we can learn and how we can grow along the way. Curiosity is essential to joyful growth. Progress, in general, is a whole lot more enjoyable than perfection once we get in the groove. If we keep waiting for the perfect time, day, skillset, or weather, wouldn’t most of life be about waiting?
A lot of meaning can be found in the crevices of intentional change.
6. I am not responsible for others’ happiness.
I can’t deprive someone else of their lessons, or the experiences they need to grow through, even if they must learn through suffering. I can encourage, inspire, support, and influence others through the way I live my life, but I can’t live life for anyone else.We’re not meant to change anyone who isn’t willing or ready to change. What we can do is show up for them when they are ready to show up for themselves. tell a friend
7. There’s always something else going on that we’re not 100% sure of. And that’s okay; it’s got to be okay.
For the sake of my own happiness and in order for real peace, I’ve learned that it’s absolutely essential to cozy up to the unknown. There’s infinitely more mystery than there is certainty. Somehow, when we embrace this miraculous truth—befriend it—a clarity is delivered to the heart that can’t be understood by the brain.
Let me know:
Which lessons about happiness resonate with your journey? What are you learning right now?
Please share any thoughts on this topic, how you’ve healed and grown by staying available to the journey (instead of banking on the destination), and any stories with me in the comments.
Did anything here inspire you, spark something in you? Send these lessons about happiness to a friend and share a piece of your heart’s journey with them. You might have some notes to swap.
Next time you find yourself in a regular old moment, ask how you can not take this for granted.