August 13, 2014 by Bill Johnson
Want to be happier?
Great–but don’t just wish for a greater sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. Do something about it. Take a different approach. Adopt a different mindset.
And then let those beliefs guide your actions.
Here are some of the habits of remarkably happy people:
1. They choose (and it is a choice) to embrace who they really are.
None of us really likes how we look. So we try to hide who we really are with the right makeup and the right clothes and the occasional Mercedes. In the right setting and the right light, we’re happy.
But not when we’re at the beach. Or when we’re at the gym. Or when we have to run to the grocery store but feel self-conscious because we’re wearing ratty jeans and an old t-shirt and haven’t showered and we think everyone is staring at us (even though they’re not.) So we spend considerable time each day avoiding every possible situation that makes us feel uncomfortable about how we look or act.
And it makes us miserable.
In reality no one cares how we look except us. (And maybe our significant others, but remember, they’ve already seen us at our worst, so that particular Elvis has definitely left the building.)
So do this. Undress and stand in front of the mirror. (And don’t do the hip-turn shoulder-twist move to make your waist look slimmer and your shoulders broader.) Take a good look.That’s who you are. Chances are you won’t like what you see, but you’ll probably also be surprised you don’t look as bad as you suspected.
If you don’t like how you look, decide what you’re willing to do about it and start doing it. But don’t compare yourself to a model or professional athlete; your only goal is to be a better version of the current you. (Remember, you can have anything… but you can’t have everything.)
Or, if you aren’t willing to do anything about what you see in the mirror, that’s also fine. Just move on. Let it go and stop worrying about how you look. Stop wasting energy on something you don’t care enough to fix.
Either way, remember that while the only person who really cares how you look is you, plenty of people care about the things you do.
Looking good is fun. Doing good makes you happy.
2. They never mistake joining for belonging.
Making connections with other people is easier than ever, and not just through social media. Joining professional organizations or alumni groups, wearing company polo shirts or college sweatshirts, or even putting a window sticker with initials like “HH” on your car to announce to the world you summer at Hilton Head Island… people try hard to show they belong, if only to themselves.
Most of those connections are superficial at best. If your spouse passes away the alumni organization may send flowers. (Okay, probably not.) If you lose your job a professional organization may send you a nifty guide to networking. (Okay, probably not, but they will send you the invoice when it’s time to renew your membership, so there is that to look forward to.) Anyone can buy, say, a Virginia Tech sweatshirt. (I didn’t go to Virginia Tech but I do have one. It was on sale.)
The easier it is to join something the less it means to you. A true sense of belonging comes from giving, self-sacrifice, and effort. To belong you have to share a common experience–the tougher the experience, the better.
Clicking a link lets anyone join; staying up all night helping meet a release date lets youbelong. Sending a donation gets anyone’s name in an event program; scrambling to feed hundreds of people at an over-crowded soup kitchen lets you belong to a group of people trying to make a difference.
Remarkably happy people do the work necessary to earn a group’s respect and trust–and in so doing truly become part of that group.
A genuine sense of belonging provides a sense of security and well-being even when you’re alone.
3. They accept they can have anything… but not everything.
We can’t be everything we want to be. We can all achieve amazing things, but we can’t doeverything we set our minds to. Ability, resources, focus, and most importantly time are unavoidable limiting factors.
Remarkably happy people know themselves, know what is most important to them… and set out to achieve that. The rest they’re satisfied to do well–or to simply let go.
Pick a primary goal. Do your best to excel. Then accept that you can have other goals, but that “good” where those goals are concerned is truly good enough.
Try to have it all and your inability to actually have it all will make you feel like you have nothing.
4. They know business success does not guarantee fulfillment.
You can love your company but it will never love you back. (Clich, but true.) No one lying on their death bed says, “I just wish I had spent more time at work…” Business success, no matter how grand, is still fleeting.
Fulfillment comes from achieving something and knowing it will outlive you: raising great kids, being a part of a supportive extended family, knowing you have helped others and changed their lives for the better…
Work hard on your business. Work harder on things you can someday look back on with even more pride–and personal satisfaction
Read more: 7 Habits of Remarkably Happy People