Happiness – it’s your right and responsibility
If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last 6 years, it’s that you can’t possibly be happy if you don’t love what you do for a living. This idea of ‘live to work’ vs. ‘work to live’ doesn’t make sense in today’s society; in fact I think the very word ‘work’ is no longer appropriate. The boundaries between work and life are too blurred, and that’s not a bad thing when you get it right.
THE ROUTE TO HAPPINESS:
There is a change afoot in the UK. Every time I log on to Linked In, Facebook or Twitter, I read a new story of someone who followed their passion, or resisted traditional expectations to follow their heart. These people never make it the first time – that’s not the point. The point is that they ‘unplug from the matrix’. They give up the pursuit of pure material rewards and instead go in search of more spiritual or emotional rewards…the primary pursuit being ‘happiness’.
Now I know that we all need to make a living – I’m not naive. But I also know we all need to be (and deserve to be) happy. Yet, somehow ‘making a living’ comes first, and sometimes in place of happiness altogether. This is why so many people work so hard just to afford their holidays…they spend a year working so they can ‘escape’ it all for two weeks a year, and do what they really want. Is this you? Do you work all day, or all week or all year to ‘earn’ spare time to relax or, better yet, follow your true passion. I’ve been there.
If you read my blog, you will see that my views on this topic are becoming stronger and stronger – I’m developing my ideas on this every day and this is the rawest content I’ve written on the topic of ‘happiness’: I’m in the process of trying to understand it myself. What I know for sure, however, is that everyone has the right to be happy, but that happiness won’t be handed to us on a plate. We have to work at it. We have to take responsibility for it ourselves. This could be as simple as saying ‘no’ to an unreasonable request. It could be as complex as leaving work to move abroad and pursue a great passion.
Today – Tuesday 20th October – I am sat in a coffee shop in Northallerton; writing. Exactly what I want to do right now but it’s a million miles away from what I was doing 12-18 months ago. What I’ve accepted is that I don’t want to be in an office and do you know what…I don’t need to be in an office. What I need to do is add value to my clients and the best possible way for me to do this is work on what I am passionate about – growing businesses in a certain way, empowering people to perform, leadership, marketing a company’s heart and soul, coaching, consulting.
The route most likely to lead to happiness, then, is to follow one’s passion. There is no shortage of content being written on the topic. It seems, in a way, like the world is waking up to the idea that we are not slaves to our jobs, to a paycheck. And I’m not belittling employment here, not at all. I am an employer myself, in fact I even pay myself a wage. However, there is a difference for me. I now get paid for doing what I love day and day out and everyone has that same right.
BREAK UP WITH YOUR EGO, LET GO OF YOUR PAST:
In order to free up your hands to hold something new, you need to let go of something old. This could be a job, a partner, a behaviour, a belief. For me, the biggest thing I had to let go of was my ego and I am not ashamed to admit it.
So what is your ‘ego’? Your ego is your opinion of yourself – it’s how you self identify yourself in your thinking. It’s a mind image of who you are. My ego told me I was ambitious, successful, prosperous. It didn’t tell me I was happy, fulfilled or contented. Therefore, when I made decisions, they were in pursuit of my ambition, my success and my prosperity…sometimes it meant I made the wrong decision.
And so, I broke up with my ego. I let go of my past assumptions of who I thought I was. I stripped my view of myself down to nothing and asked: how do I want to see myself? Who do I want to be? In trying to answer this question, I studied hundreds of happy, successful people and asked what made them happy, how they reached success in their own terms. Like a chameleon, I adopted their traits – valuing my time, saying no, following my heart, tuning into positive self-talk, taking more exercise, practising my trade, developing new skills.
Essentially, I invested in a longer term game plan of pursuing happiness. And there is something you need to know about this…there is a difference between short term joy, and long term happiness. That second piece of cake will bring short term joy but not long term happiness. Cutting corners to finish a job might bring a little bit of joy as you move on to more fun activities but it won’t bring long term happiness. Watching a movie instead of learning a new skill brings short term joy but not longer term happiness. It’s a game of cause and effect: to bring about a certain effect, you have to do certain things. What things must you do to achieve longterm happiness?
Since following this principle, and investing in my long term happiness, so much of my life has changed and it’s all been for the better. That said, it hasn’t been easy. I had to make tough decisions. I had to leave certain people behind. I had to make big changes in my businesses. I had to take huge risks. There have been bumps, yes, but it’s all been worth it. It is worth it. I am worth it.
I’ve written before about the idea of giving up the past. Remember – your past can be limiting. What you’ve achieved so far, is not a reflection of what you can achieve going forward. You are powerful beyond belief and you can have, feel, become anything you want to in the world but first you must dare to dream, then dare to act on it and finally dare to enjoy the new rewards. Can you do this?
So why am I telling you this? Well, I am happy and I have met so many people recently who will readily admit they are not happy – they are coasting through life hoping for a miracle. I’m here to tell you that you are the only person who can make this change for yourself. I’m here to make you ask questions about how you spend your time. I’m here to challenge your own expectations of your life. I’m here to help you make that change.
So, what should you do next? It’s simple: take action today that will lead to long term happiness, not short term joy.
Ask yourself these questions and then take one step today that will bring you closer to the answers. You don’t have to sprint towards them, you don’t have to shut down a business or hand in your notice. In fact, don’t do anything drastic. Just start the thought process in your mind that you do in fact deserve happiness, and you can make it a reality for you, day in and day out. It’s not a race, it’s a journey and every day will yield a new realization for you. Embrace it and follow your heart.
- If I could change one thing in the world right now, what would it be? How can I make this a reality? (It’s likely that this is what you are most passionate about.)
- What do I need in order to be happy, at a very basic level? What do I need to do to make this a reality?
- What do I want my children to know about their rights, and the opportunities they have in this world? How can I be a living example of this, starting today?
From here on in, you have two choices: steer your life, or drift. Remember, it’s your right to be happy, to reach fulfilment but it’s also your responsibility to make it a reality.
Take action today. Take control of your life. Choose happiness.
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