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Happy New Year! Quick question… what is your #1 goal for 2020? For me, it is my commitment to excellence, to greatness, to happiness and to being myself. A simpler way to sum up all these goals is to say that I am chasing happiness. Are you chasing happiness? How people define happiness can differ from person to person, but to keep it simple, happiness has to do with the way you feel about yourself and your engagement with the world around you. That is why happiness can feel different for each of us. Your happiness may be intertwined with your family and friends (relationships), while someone else’s happiness is based on their contribution to society through their professional and entrepreneur growth.
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Happiness Comes From The Inside
The good news is no matter how you measure happiness, it is an internal interpretation of life and not an external reaction to the events around you. As you are chasing happiness this year, you need to discover how to listen to your internal drum of happiness. The reason this is important is because a recent Harris Poll said that 31% of Americans describe themselves as happy with their life.
The idea that seven out of ten people are living a life that has them feel less than excited to wake up is scary. The real problem is that most of these people have the belief that there is nothing that they can do to change their life and their feelings. As a result, you have settled in the life you have and no one is excited by the idea of settling.
The process of changing your life requires you first change your habits. You have built a habit over time of inaction. As a result, you spend more time thinking than you do acting. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but if you are going to change your life you need to remove the habit of over-thinking, procrastinating and doubting yourself.
When you find yourself facing in-action, you need to take the steps to start rebuilding your habit of taking action. The habit of taking action is not something you wake up on January 1st and expect to execute flawlessly. It is a muscle, one that you need to build over time. This is a process of using small, seemingly insignificant events to string together a life of happiness. The mistake most people make is they underestimate the impact of building a consistent process in the hopes of striking it big overnight.
My promise to each of you is to rise to the challenge for the year 2020. I will put out a video, podcast audio, and an article every single day this year. I am committed to doing what it takes to create the habits that will create the results I am looking to achieve. While this goal may sound daunting, and believe me, I share your concern, it is the message the drum beating inside of me is sending.
Content or Complacent?
This goal may give the impression I am not content with my life, but there is a difference between content and complacent. I am very content, happy, pleased, blessed and thankful for my life. Everything from the opportunities, family, friends, joys and challenges; I wouldn’t have a thing. My experiences have made me the man I am today. I am content with my life and I am thankful for each interaction.
Among the seven out of ten people who describe themselves as unhappy in the poll mentioned earlier, most of them are living a complacent life. They have decided they are going to ignore their inner drum of happiness and its cost is tremendous. Complacent people lack the energy to take the steps necessary to change their life so they have settled for the life and simply reaction to the events in their life. They no longer have the belief they can impact their life in a meaningful way. They have settled into abusive relationships, dead-end jobs, and poor eating habits.
Can You Buy Happiness?
Some will wonder about those who live a life of fame and fortune and still commit suicide. They have everything most people believe chasing happiness would want from life, yet the results tell us something was clearly missing in their life. What was missing you ask? They were not listening to their internal messaging system. Most people make the mistake of looking externally for signs of happiness fall into this trap. They believe if they have a beautiful spouse, successful career, and a lavish lifestyle, they are going to be happy. However, since happiness is internal, it has little to do with all the things around you.
Happiness has to do with how you perceive the world you are interacting with on a daily basis. Therefore, if you perceive yourself as lacking value, it doesn’t really matter how much stuff you have, you will always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. You believe you are in over your head and someone is going to expose you. The good news is the opposite is also true. You have the ability to remain constant and confident in the face of any challenge.
A Legend In Your Own Mind
Think of all the famous authors and artists who died without anyone appreciating their work. Yet, they continued to produce more works because they were chasing happiness through their internal drum beat. Vincent Van Gogh is an example of someone who understood his happiness was internal. Did you know he painted over 900 paintings in his life and only sold one?
He most likely had people in his life telling him he should find something else to do. However, he continued to paint with all of his free-time. Van Gogh was following the beat of his internal drum of happiness and as a result, he is known as one of the best artist in history. Even though Van Gogh was not able to live long enough to see his art appreciated, he was never painting for the masses. He was painting for how it made him feel when he painted. That is the power of following your internal drum beat.
Could you imagine if Van Gogh would have given in to the thoughts and judgments of others? He would have likely changed his art to match whoever was the prominent artist at the time. Have you found yourself settling in life because you are looking for external validation? When you make decisions like that, the fall within the 70% that simply aren’t happy with their life. Now, I don’t say that to discourage you because at the end of the day, you do want to be able to make a living. You do want to be able to take care of yourself, but also understand that if you compromise too much for the lavish life, you may end up miserable and depressed.
Chasing Happiness Through The Opinions Of Others
If you spend your entire life doing what other people say should make you happy, you may find that you’ve just created your own prison. Often people look at these decisions where they think they are doing what is reasonable and what is expected, but because they are not rising to the challenge and listening to their inner drum beat of happiness, they feel empty. Instead of settling, rise to the challenge my fellow achojah warrior do something a little different and unexpected. That’s what Van Gogh did and that is what you can do too.
The goal is not to create the change you are looking to create overnight, your goal for this year is to take daily steps to achieve your life goals. We get caught in this instant gratification society where we see the end result and want to achieve that immediately. It is like watching your favorite superhero win at the end of the movie and forgetting they had to learn those abilities. You are no different; you need to discover how to use your superpowers.
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Mastering Your Powers
If you have super flight, you are going to need to learn how to land. If your power is super strength, you need time to learn how to control your abilities. Even if you have super speed, you need time to understand how to slow down. You should not expect yourself to immediately be able to use your abilities. The key is to make sure you are not overly focused on what other people are saying through this process. What they believe is going to change and if you spend your time trying to please others, you will find you are always chasing happiness.
If you want to be someone who can harness their happiness internally, then you want to do as Van Gogh did and continue paint for yourself and not simply to make a sale. Ideally, those two goals will align, but that is not always the case. Next, whenever you are making your goals, do not allow society to tell you what is reasonable. Remember, 70% of people are unhappy with their life. That means what is reasonable is to be miserable every Monday and excited about every Friday. If that is the life you want to live, have at it. However, if you are willing to rise to the challenge, then you cannot settle for that lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you won’t have difficult moments where you have to make short term sacrifices to make ends meet, but you cannot lose sight of your goal.
Asking me what is reasonable often irks me because it is a loaded question. What is reasonable is whatever has happened up to this point in time. It is reasonable to expect the past to repeat itself. This means there was a point in time it was unreasonable to envision a world where your cell phone has the same amount of computing power as the desktop computer 30 years ago. There was a point in time where it was unreasonable to believe this thing called the World Wide Web could connect us to the entire world. There was even a point in time when it was unreasonable to expect packages to be delivered in a day or two, yet all of these events have become the new normal.
Seeing Through The Fog Of Uncertainty
You have to be willing to bet on yourself. If you want people to believe in you stop telling them what you’re going to do and just start doing it. Everybody knows somebody who had a plan to change the world and they never enacted their plan. As Mike Tyson used to say, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
So how do we prepare to get punched in the mouth? Well, let’s make a plan and figure out what we are going to do when that happens. Don’t spend too much time on it because the world is always changing. As scripture says, each day has enough problems of its own.
Your goal is similar to someone trying to look through a fog. If you’re standing in front of the fog, how far can you see into the fog? You can probably see maybe a few feet in front of you.
But every time you take another step into the fog, how far can you see now? Well, you can see a few more feet in front of you. And before you know it, if you take enough steps, you can see to the other side. On the other side, you can see the world with beauty and clarity. Most people will not take the first step because they are attempting to see through the fog. They are waiting for certainty to know what is on the other side. The reality is certainty will never come unless you begin to take steps forward.
I want you to start chasing happiness by taking that first step in the fog. Allow things to clear up for you as you take each step. A wise person told me only two things can happen when you take action. You succeed or you fail. If you succeed, keep doing it and if you fail, you can learn from, get smarter and try again. As long as you are taking action, you cannot lose. You can only lose by not taking action.
Sources: Here’s How Happy Americans Are Right Now
Vincent Van Gogh