Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, recently wrote a publisher’s letter entitled: “What Makes You Happy?” Darren correctly states that this question is one of the most important questions of our entire lives.
Most people do not take the time nor invest the effort to seriously address this question. When asked this question, most people answer incorrectly. Harvard professor Dan Gilbert explains in his book entitled Stumbling on Happiness that most of us think we know what makes us happy, but we are typically wrong.
Darren describes three major traps you and I may fall into, unknowingly making ourselves unhappy. We will discuss the first trap in this week’s Tips for Success.
1. “The first unhappiness trap is postponing happiness – the ‘When I (fill in the blank), I will be happy’ syndrome. The reality is happiness isn’t something to be acquired in the future. You are either happy now or not; ‘then’ never arrives. Living and striving for ‘then’ results in a constant state of unhappiness. Now is the only time you have to be happy. If you can’t be happy now, you most certainly will not be happy later.”
I know a person who for years emphatically stated and begged, “If I just had a grand piano, I would be happy.” She finally got her grand piano. After a few months, she was and is still not happy!
Many of us have heard people say or imply, “If I could just win the lottery, I would be happy.” Highly credible studies consistently prove just the opposite. For many ‘winners,’ winning the lottery ultimately destroys their life and their relationships. A significant percentage of lottery winners look back and say, “I wish I would have never won all that money. When reality set in, it brought great strife, stress, distrust, and broken relationships rather than great happiness.”
Probably one of the biggest fallacies in America and in the world is this; “When I can afford to retire, I will be happy.” Again, highly credible studies prove just the opposite. Some of the most unhappy people in the world are retired. They feel worthless, useless and isolated. Other retired people, who have found new ways to serve, create value and ‘work,’ are some of the happiest people in the world!
During the decade following graduate school, a very talented and capable friend of mine would frequently say, “I will not be happy until I am the CEO.” He would even name the specific healthcare organization. There is nothing wrong with healthy drive and ambition, but this person would tell me, “Dan, you have no idea how many people I have moved out of the way.” This self-centered executive literally and meticulously planned and executed the departure, removal, or failure of any and all above him who, in his opinion, stood in the way of his out-of-control obsession to be the CEO. Very similar to target practice, he literally ‘picked them off… one by one’ as he very quickly rose through the ranks. You can imagine the level of trust, camaraderie and the culture of this organization when he did become the CEO!
Many people, particularly highly ambitious and driven people, struggle with the “When I (fill in the blank), I will be happy” syndrome. I am certainly one of them! Darren Hardy provides some extremely valuable advice for each and every one of us.
“The reality is happiness isn’t something to be acquired in the future. You are either happy now or not; ‘then’ never arrives. Living and striving for ‘then’ results in a constant state of unhappiness. Now is the only time you have to be happy. If you can’t be happy now, you most certainly will not be happy later.”
Are you happy? What makes you happy? “Then never arrives!”