Adjusting the Parameters for Happiness

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the notion of happiness. Where do we find it? Is it fleeting and transient, dependent solely on life circumstances? Or, is it a constant force in our lives that we can always tap into as long we keep an open mind?

I’ve realized that it’s so easy to play the “as soon as” game in life, looking at happiness as though it is a destination that has yet to be reached.  It’s so easy to tell ourselves: “As soon as [fill in the blank] happens I’ll be happy.”

“As soon as I get the perfect job….”
“As soon as I find the right partner….”
“As soon as I make more money…”

When I play this game I always come out a loser. Why? Because even when I do meet the “as soon as” requirement for scoring happiness, it never seems to quite live up to my expectation for how I thought I would feel. Instead of reveling in the fact that I’ve gotten what I wanted, I’m already playing the “as soon as” game again.

The other day I read an article titled “20 Signs You’re Doing Better than You Think You Are". In the article, the author lists reasons why most of us are more successful than we realize. For me, reading it was a reminder that happiness is not really a byproduct of the situation or end outcome; it is a result of our perception and expectations.

When I take time to pause and reflect, I can appreciate how much I have in my life at the moment, how far I’ve come, and the little joys I overlook when I get caught up in the “as soon as” mindset. Lowering our expectations doesn’t mean giving up or throwing in the towel on our dreams and goals. It simply means letting go of rigidity and opening our eyes to the goodness of the moment.

So for the month of February, I challenge myself and whom ever is reading this post to adjust some of the parameters on what it takes to experience happiness. 

Let’s hold on to what we want without the weight of expectation on our shoulders. Let’s take time to be grateful for the moment and appreciate how far we’ve come. Let’s embrace the journey and know that happiness can only be experienced in the present moment.