Do you know what the most frequent response that I get to the question, “What do you want in your life?”
The answer is “Happiness.” Did you ever notice that the things we hope for and dream about are at its deepest roots a desire to experience more happiness and well being in our lives? The problem is we have a hard time identifying or fully understanding what happiness is. Is it a state of being, an experience or a tangible thing? Is it a consciousness? Is it simply pleasure? If you look at pleasure itself it is contingent upon time, upon its object, upon the place. Pleasure is usually a temporary experience. That is why the truest experience of happiness has to be more about “well-being.” A deeper way of looking at this is that “well-being” is not just a mere pleasurable sensation but rather a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. It is something that actually underlies all emotional states and all the joys or sorrows that can come our way. This begs the question, “Can we have this well being while being sad?” Maybe we are looking into a different level of existence. Think of it like the Ocean. On the surface it can change drastically from a calm mirror like smoothness to stormy waves crashing and thrashing about but the depth is unseen and unchanging. It is still and serene beneath the surface. That depth can become our existence and our deeper experience of life. We don't always have to live on the surface where so much turmoil and chaos can occur at any moment. We can live within the depth that stays consistent and calm and peaceful. I believe Organizations and teams that thrive have that depth to them which underlies their true success. When I think about what I want in my life, what will help me live a better life, this sense of serenity, calm and peace are what I strive for and yet can be quite elusive.
Our pursuit of happiness seems to have become an acquisition of outer conditions in our lives.
A gathering of things that we convince ourselves will bring about joy. The problem with this type of happiness is that like the surface of the ocean it can change in a heartbeat. We may lose something or not be able to acquire something. We may constantly want what we don't have. We may not be satisfied with what we do have. We begin to comparatively live our lives and look around and say to ourselves: “I do not have what someone else has and thus my life is incomplete.” This is one of the down sides to social media. So many of us are “comparatively” living. In my estimation there is a lack of “authenticity” to many of the posts we see from others. Much of what we see feels manufactured. It’s like people show you only their “highlight reel” of life. This begs the question, “How real is this?” This type of happiness is elusive and short lived. Is it possible to change our way of being to look into the depth of who we are and find our happiness? Of course it is possible but like anything worthwhile in life it won’t come easy. It takes practice. It is imperative that we stop comparing ourselves to others and look within to our depths and find the true essence of what can bring us happiness and joy.
3 Types of Happiness:
To help you determine “What you want and Why” make sure you apply the three P’s:
PLEASURE: This is the most temporary experiences of happiness but can be the most intense. We need pleasurable experiences in our lives because it gives our existence its “Mojo!” (Remember when Austin Powers lost his MOJO and just wasn’t the same?) Experts believe we have two major motivating factors in our lives. The first is the avoidance of pain but the 2nd is the experience of pleasure. Pleasurable experiences are what we live for. Researchers have shown that the brain’s dopamine system is highly active when we experience pleasure. Dopamine has been thought of as the brain’s “Pleasure Chemical.” It’s the release of this neurotransmitter in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. It is an essential part of the human experience. When trying to determine what you want and why, we need to ask ourselves, “Would the realization of this goal or idea give me pleasure?” If the answer is “YES” then try to determine in what way? When we can attach pleasure to the pursuit of our goals and dreams then we will be much more likely to commit to its realization and the work that goes along with it. Sometimes it feels good to simply feel good!
PASSION: In my mind PASSION is the fuel that gives us the energy to perform at peak levels. When we feel Passion in our lives it creates a fire behind our “WHY”. When we can emphatically explain why we want to do something its usually because there is a deep emotional attachment to it. This is vital for it gives your daily life a deeper meaning. The people who in my estimation live extraordinary lives do so because they are extremely passionate about the life they lead. When you are trying to determine what you want in your life, ask yourself if you are passionate about it? How do you know? Is this something you would do for free? There are some endeavors in life that generate such passion that we’d find a way to experience it no matter what. Of the many PEAK PERFORMERS I have met in my life, one thing they have in common is PASSION! This passion will lead us directly to our third “P”.
PURPOSE: Finally we hit the true “why” behind what we do: Purpose! One of the things that define our experience in such an impactful way is the purpose we feel throughout our lives. Our purpose is the framework for our identity. One important distinction in finding your purpose is to look at where you are in this moment of your life. The present will give you some indication of what you may be seeking. For no matter what path you may choose, know that it will lead right back to you in that new space and time of your life. The question becomes what do you want your journey to feel like along the way? Immerse yourself in living your life in the present. Act “as if” what you want is already within you. Try to fully grasp what it feels like to have what you say you want. Can you imagine what your life will feel like when that happens? Does it give your life more meaning and purpose? Does it bring you what you hope to feel? If it does, then I think you are on the right path. Breaking the Four Minute Mile gave me an understanding of a purpose that I didn’t realize had always been there. That purpose was a knowing that I can do extraordinary things with my life! The deeper purpose I came to know deep within was what my Dad was trying to help me understand: Strive to do the best you can in all areas of your life! All we can ask of ourselves is this very thing and when we live our present in that mode our purpose becomes clear. For you are unique, there is no one in this world exactly like you! Therefore, who you are, your life already has purpose and meaning. Your voice needs to be heard in this world. Your actions need to be felt. For when it is, you cannot help but contribute something that is beautiful to our world. It is a gift that only you can share. That gift is the AUTHENTIC YOU! So as this step comes to an end, take the time to determine what it is you sincerely want in your life. Examine how you want your journey to feel. Find the things that help you feel more alive today! Become consciously connected to what you believe is the best version of you in this moment. Find the path that will lead you toward that goal and dream you’d like to create and each day commit to your purpose of doing the best you can.
When you practice this in your life, you will not only discover Happiness you will be Happiness!