Many people put off their happiness until some future date or event or possession. I will be happy when I get married, when I get that promotion, when I finish this extra degree. I am all for setting future goals; for striving to achieve. But there is no reason that you can’t start on that happiness business today.
Your happiness is not dependent on circumstance, only your perception of those circumstances. Some other perfectly normal human being in your exact circumstances will be unhappy while you are deliriously happy. So since the determining factor isn’t the marriage, the promotion, or the doctorate; but the human brain as it thinks about those things… why not choose happy?
Contention: Your brain determines what will make you happy.
Conclusion: Tell your brain to be happy in your current circumstances.
But, I would like to throw in a few cautionary notes regarding this notion of being happy right now.
Choosing to be blissfully happy does not mean living only for today. You still should be mindful of your future. If you are living only to fulfill your immediate gratification today, your future self well be ticked off.
Choosing happiness also does not mean living selfishly. Making decisions that you feel are fulfilling your own happiness at the expense of other people is no way to live.
Often people confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure is short term. Happiness is long term. Short term pleasure often hinders your ability to live a happy life. Living just to fulfill your immediate appetite sabotages your future wellness.
I’m not saying that you are not allowed to have any fun in the pursuit of happiness either. You should have fun and pleasure and happiness throughout all your life. So since I seem to be saying a lot of contradictory things so far in this blog, is there some kind of rule or guideline you can use when trying to decide what I should do with my life today?
A good rule I use is this:
Will this make a difference in my life five years from now?
I don’t often get upset about things. If someone wrongs me, I ask myself if this will make a difference five years from now. The answer almost invariably is “no” so I just get on with my life and try not to think about it.
I try to live a life where I am perpetually in a state of learning and growing as a person. I enjoy reading personal development books, but sometimes I don’t feel like it. But I will still crack open a book and read a bit each day because what you feed your brain can definitely impact the person you are five years from now.
I should probably make a greater effort this year to apply this rule to my diet and exercise habits more often.
So to quickly summarize: Enjoy the moment. Have joy in your struggles of the day. But don’t only live for today. And don’t only live for yourself. Because you’ll tick off your family, your future self, and maybe your future family’s future.
Have a few good moments every day and you will have an amazing life.