I think we all seek happiness intrinsically. The problem comes when we try to seek out the wrong things that we think will bring us lasting happiness, but usually never does.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us”. – Helen Keller
Hindsight is a great thing. I have learned a lot on my quest for true and lasting happiness. My only regret is that I was too stubborn to seek out true happiness earlier.
Here are 12 things I wish I had known before that helped me bring happiness into my life:
1. Materialism. I wish I had not spent so much time and energy pursing the wrong kind of happiness in the way of what I could buy or have. I had too great of a focus on attaining the latest and greatest. I am all for our modern world gadgets and the fun they bring but I missed out on all the happiness that money couldn’t buy.
2. Helping. With a corporate world background, my focus was on getting; how much I could get and how far I could go. I failed to realize that true happiness and success actually came when I stopped pursing my own ladder climbing and helped other people climb their ladder. This helped me to rise to even greater heights myself.
3. Giving. It is easy in our modern world to give when we have plenty and equally easy to button up when we are stretched thin. I learned that giving, even when you have little to nothing to give, is where true happiness is.
4. Letting go. This was a hard one. Like many other people, I had a hard time letting go of the hardships in life. I let them define me and like the quote above by Helen Keller, I had spent too much time looking at the door that closed to see any new opportunities that had opened for me. When I let go, If found how fruitful life truly was.
5. Paying it forward. Starbucks did something great awhile back. If you bought someone a coffee, you earned a free coffee for yourself. I have found happiness through randomly paying the toll for the car behind me, picking up the fast food tab for the person behind me.
I have paid for someone’s groceries randomly, and also stuck $5 in a book at the bookstore, the newspaper machine, in the pocket of jeans hanging on the rack, and under grocery items at the store. I will never know these people that I randomly helped. It is my hope that I brought them happiness, and they went on to do the same for others.
6. Loving. Had I known all the joy that truly opening your heart can bring, I would have done it much sooner. There is risk in being totally open, but the payoffs that come are indescribable.
7. Doing what I love. I worked for money and while I liked it, I wasn’t in love with what I did. I eventually became unhappy and followed my heart and dreams, although it seemed so farfetched in the beginning. The funny thing is that when you love what you are doing, you are so much freer and with that freedom comes great happiness and rewards.
8. Confidence. I was too ruled by what others thought. When I let go of caring about the expectations of others and just concentrated on being the best me, I no longer had the same limitations. Without limits, my life and happiness dramatically changed for the better.
9. Newness. When I let go of the same old patterns and doing things within my comfort zone, I found a whole new level of happiness by trying new things. Some things I loved, some I liked, and some I didn’t care for but, I always walked away more enriched with experience and with great stories to tell.
10. Activity. Work took up too much of my time. When I stopped being ruled by the clock and started to actively seek out happiness, happiness met me half way. Getting my body moving not only helped my health, it also helped my mental and emotional state.
11. Being attentive and mindful. There are conversations I missed because I was thinking of my reply to what someone was saying, instead of truly being there in the conversation. I missed a lot in life by not being mindful. When I began to be attentive and mindful, people, nature, life and experiences just raced to meet me.
12. Relationships. Concentrating more on how others felt than how I felt was a big turning point for me. I was too selfish in relationships for too long. The sad part was is that I didn’t even recognize it when it was going on. When I began to understand the needs and feelings of others, my relationships deepened and became more real.
Begin to seek happiness in your life. Be of service to others and never neglect your own morals and principals. Break through limitations so you can live a free and happier life.