Everyone wants to be happy, but sometimes, we look at happiness the wrong way. Happiness isn’t a final destination or an end goal. Rather, it’s something you can have right now, and every day for the rest of your life. That’s important, because if you can find happiness now, you can start to harness the power of happiness in your life—a power that helps you feel safe, free, and supported.
Happiness isn’t the end
A lot of times, we see happiness as a destination. We’ll be happy…someday. Maybe when we get that dream job, or finish that project, or make enough money to buy a beach house. Happiness is often thought of as the result of something. It’s the reward, the endgame.
Happiness is an ongoing process. It’s something you have to continually choose to pursue, and work to develop and maintain.
I know—on the surface, that sounds kind of exhausting. It would actually be easier if we could reach a place of happiness and then stay there forever, like graduating from “unhappy” to “happy.”
But the good news is that treating happiness as part of the journey, rather than the destination, brings a lot of power into your life.
Because even though success doesn’t lead to happiness, happiness leads to success.
The power of happiness
Research has been done to support this very hypothesis: happiness can make you more successful, in multiple ways. Happiness can:
- Increase confidence and optimism
- Help build social relationships
- Lead to more fulfilling marriages
- Increase energy
- Motivate you to pursue your goals and dreams
- Improve work performance
- Improve physical health
As your happiness helps you live a more fulfilling life, your fulfillment actually makes your happiness increase. And that positive spiral brings you both happiness and success.
Clearly, there’s a lot of power in being happy. But why exactly is that? What is it about being happy that causes us to discover more fulfillment, love, and success?
I think there are many ways that we could answer that. But lately, as I’ve been thinking about how happiness benefits my life, three words keep coming to mind: safe, free, and supported.
The power of being safe, free, and supported
These three concepts each have their own unique power and benefits to bring into your life. If you can discover how to be happy, you’ll feel more safe, free, and supported, and you’ll be more empowered to create, grow, and live a meaningful life.
What exactly do I mean by being safe? I mean a mindset that makes you feel capable of taking big risks and making big choices. When you feel safe, you’re able to do these things with confidence, because you believe:
- People won’t leave you. People who feel safe believe that their relationships are secure and not threatened by performance or outcome. You know that no matter what happens, you’ll still have people who love you by your side.
- You’ll be able to figure things out. Your faith in your problem-solving abilities can help you feel safe. People who carry a sense of safety with them know that even if they were to face the worst-case scenario, they’d still be able to find a solution they can feel good about (or at least live with).
- Things will work out for the best. Optimism and feelings of safety and security go hand in hand. Feeling safe makes you realize that what’s supposed to happen will happen.
How to feel more safe
Happiness leads to feelings of safety, but how can you develop and magnify those feelings further?
- Don’t be afraid to cut people out of your life if they betray your trust. If there’s a person who betrays your trust or makes you feel unsafe in any way, you have every right to distance yourself from them. Staying in these untrusting relationships can lead you to feel insecure, unstable, and unsafe.
- Take care of yourself physically. Physical health begets mental health. When you feel physically strong and capable, you’re more likely to also feel more mentally strong and capable—meaning you’ll feel more able to face life’s challenges without putting yourself in danger.
- Love yourself. Learn to trust and love yourself. Knowing that you are always on your side can lead to feelings of security and assurance.
Part of the power of happiness also lies in its ability to help you feel free. When you’re happy, you can be free from:
- Shame. Shame isn’t freedom. Quite the opposite. When you feel shame, you feel trapped, because you aren’t able to share yourself openly with the world.
- Expectations. The expectations put on you by others (and often by yourself) can leave you feeling burdened and weighed down. Freeing yourself from those expectations allows you to discover your true hopes and dreams, and to chase them.
- Judgement. Judging yourself or others doesn’t lead to happiness. What does is curiosity. We like to think of it as WTF vs WHY. One mindset is full of judgement and jumping to conclusions. The other is more open-minded and willing to explore new ideas.
There’s so much power in claiming your freedom from these things. When you can break free from shame, expectations, and judgement, you are freeing yourself up to be more creative, more compassionate, and more adventurous.
How to claim your freedom
Happiness can help you feel free from the things holding you back. But how can you claim and feed that freedom, so that it keeps benefitting you in the future?
- Learn to see things as “neutral.” The things that happen to you are neutral until you assign worth to them. For example, you could lose your job and be sad about it, or you could lose your job and be happy about it. In both cases, you lost your job; the only thing that changed is the “good” or “bad” label that you assigned to the event.
Everything that happens to you is neutral. That means that you can choose how to think about it. Choose the thoughts you want to have. When you do that, you become free from being a “victim” to circumstance. You become the one that has control over your life.
- Forgive others and yourself. Guilt and grudges weigh you down in a way that few other things can. If you learn to forgive others for their mistakes, and to forgive yourself for your weaknesses and past errors, you’ll be a much happier, freer person.
- Pull away. In the modern world, we are slaves to many things: the news, our phones, our jobs, social media, etc. Just check out these statistics from TechJury about phone use:
- The average smartphone owner unlocks their phone 150 times every day
- 71% of smartphone owners sleep with their phone right next to their bed
- 20% of people would rather go without shoes for a week than without a smartphone for a week
This is just one example of how we’ve become slaves to our devices, and an illustration of how crucial it is that we occasionally take time off from the things that are running our lives.
This might mean getting out into nature, leaving social media for a while, or even just turning off your phone during dinner time. Whatever you feel like you’re a slave to, step away occasionally. Use that time to reset, recharge, and refocus on what you want your life to look like. Free yourself.
It’s difficult to talk about being supported, because a lot of support is external. Since we don’t have control over the things outside ourselves, we don’t really have control over whether or not others choose to support us.
That said, happy people do feel supported, and it’s not hard to understand why. When you feel supported, you feel as though there’s always going to be someone on your side, no matter what. And you feel like you have people you can turn to when you need them.
How to feel more supported
You might not be able to control if other people actually support you, but you can do things to help yourself feel more supported. No one is alone, and there’s support for you out there if you know where to look for it.
- Let people love you. Surround yourself with people who love you, and accept their love. Allow them to love you. Lean on them when you need them. When you let love in, you’ll feel more supported.
- Be your own support system. You can always be on your own side. You have the potential to be your biggest cheerleader. Work on knowing, loving, and supporting yourself. Fine tune your healthy coping mechanisms, learn how to deal with your emotions and problems, and build confidence in your ability to handle life’s challenges.
- Check your attitude. I’ve found that people either (a) have more support than they think they do, or (b) think they deserve more support than they are getting. Either way, the problem isn’t with other people; it’s inside.
Check your attitude about how supported you feel. Recognize and accept the support you have. Step back and acknowledge how much people really love and want to help you. Additionally, make sure you’re behaving in a way that’s worthy of others’ support. Think about how well you work with others, how you treat others, and how much support you give to others. Make sure your attitude and behavior invites support.
Happiness is powerful, in part because it allows you to feel safe, free, and supported. By doing your part to help those feelings grow even more, you’ll become even happier. And the upward cycle will continue.
Happiness is within your reach. A fulfilled life is yours for the creating. You deserve to feel safe, free, and supported, today and every day, and it’s up to you to make that happen.
Create a happier life (for free!) with Design.org.
Take our quick assessment to start receiving free coaching messages that will help you “create happy” in your life.