Did you follow all the rules, and still feel unhappy or unfulfilled?
Define Happiness and Success
Did you follow the rules? Do you feel unhappy or unfulfilled?
My inquiry into happiness and success was prompted by a client. My first male client actually. He came to see me at the encouragement of his wife. After a few minutes of small talk he confessed that he felt guilty and wasn’t sure what I could possibly do to help. I asked him to elaborate, and he explained that he had started his own business, an industry he was passionate about, had a wonderful wife he loved, two beautiful kids, and a home that looked like a magazine cover. And even with all that he still felt unhappy. Then he felt guilty because he had so much and it still felt empty, and then he would berate himself for the guilt which led to more guilt and less happiness. A viscous downward spiral that had been going on for more than a year. On that visit we worked with the tools I had at the time, and then I searched out more information on the subject of happiness and success. Along the way I gained insights into my own life and found tools and questions that have helped clients and friends over the last 7 years.
Happiness and success are subjects I am passionate about, and they intertwine with my work in connecting people to their intuition.
I meet clients regularly who say they want to be happier, or more successful or more commonly they are frustrated by the lack of these in their lives. When I ask them how they define happiness or success there is inevitably a pause, they stop to think about it and are often even confused by the question. Eventually an answer comes, about how they want more, or better or just like Mr. & Mrs. ‘fill in the blank’. It becomes obvious that they have not really given it much thought personally, but have followed along with the societal definition of happiness or success. It is defined by their upbringing and social pressure. This is like getting in your car and having someone else preset the destination and wonder why you are heading in this direction, and not recognizing the final destination when you arrive.
The good news is that you are here, looking for a new way of defining these for yourself. Congratulations!
Defining success or happiness for ourselves is the first step in the process. We need to know what it looks like and feels like so we can recognize the path that will lead us there. It is hard to know if we are getting close, or what to do if we have nothing to measure it by. Without a definition that fits us personally we are left to follow others and simply hope it feels good to us when we get there.
What does your current belief about success look like?
Does it include being busy, working long hours. What is the financial status of success, how much money would be required to feel successful? How do you need to dress? What office or company do you need to work for? Job title, clubs you or your family belong to, car you drive, vacations you take? When you think of successful people what do you think of? Is this the same way you measure happiness? Do you need to be in an amazing relationship, have kids?
Write down the current picture of happiness and success that you have been chasing.
The pursuit of happiness must always fail because it is based on a
lie ~ happiness is not outside you.
~Robert Holden, Happiness Now
Now, what if … Happiness and success were not determined by outside circumstances? What if it is created internally by you?
I have met people with enough money to travel anywhere but feel they can’t stop working long enough to vacation.
I have clients who are married and happy, and clients who are married and unhappy.
I know women who own designer clothes and feel like a fraud, and women who shop at the thrift store and feel bold and empowered.
There are millionaires who are miserable and homeless who feel free.
I invite you to take out a journal/paper and pen, find a quiet space and take a deep breath, settle in and let the answers flow to the following questions. Don’t think too much, write the first thing that comes to you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, to prompt a new definition of success and happiness for yourself:
Describe a life well lived.
Describe what a loving and empowering relationship feels like?
What type of person/friend do you want to be?
What contribution do you want to give to the world?
How do you want your life to feel?
This may take more than one sitting.Many times when we start an exercise like this the feelings at first are hard to put into words. Let the feeling flow over you, and maybe the words are more descriptive as a sensation, a texture or smell rather than explaining. Happy feels light and yellow, and tastes like strawberries rather than how it looks from an external situation.
What insights came to you during the writing?
What did you write or experience that surprised you?
How different is this version of happiness/success from the first one you wrote?
Which version feels more authentic to you?
At this point do not worry about how to make this happen, or the to-do list that will accompany it. We will address these in another session of the series.
For now day dream, get familiar with the feeling of happiness and success. Notice where in your life you are far from it, and in others where you are already close and never realized it.
This is the first step, and in this short series we are sticking to the tip of the iceberg. After the next few steps if you are wanting to take this deeper and further I will be sharing ways to work with me in workshops, 1:1, share with your clients or come to your business. When a group of people work together with a common intention the transformation and growth is exponential.
Stay tuned for:
Part 2, Who is driving the car in your life? The distinction between our learned identity and sacred identity.